An SAS sniper jailed for illegally possessing a pistol and ammunition had his sentence suspended today after winning an appeal.

Sergeant Danny Nightingale was sentenced to 18 months military detention earlier this month by a judge sitting in a military court.

THe sniper, who has family in Hampshire, admitted illegally possessing a Glock 9mm pistol and more than 300 rounds of ammunition at a court martial.

Three judges - Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge, Mr Justice Fulford and Mr Justice Bean - heard legal argument at a hearing in the Court Martial Appeal Court in London.

Appeal judges said Sgt Nightingale's sentence would be cut from 18 months to 12 months and suspended.

They said he could be released immediately.

Sgt Nightingale's wife Sally, 38, wept at the verdict. She was lost for words but nodded when asked if she was ''thrilled''.

Sgt Nightingale walked free from the cells at the Royal Courts of Justice.

Wiping away tears, he hugged his wife and father, who lives in the New Forest, in the main hall of the building.