27 Jun 2014

Ex-soldier wins court martial appeal

10:32 pm on 27 June 2014

A former SAS trooper and Afghanistan veteran has successfully appealed against his court martial conviction for trying to sell army property.

The man, whose name is suppressed, had been found guilty by court martial on three counts of stealing Army property and one of unlawful possession of army property. He was convicted and fined $4700.

He has admitted another charge of failing to comply with a written order.

The man has since left the Army - though at the time he was sentenced in December last year he escaped being detained or dismissed.

He was accused of trying to sell cocking handle, a pistol holster and other things to an Auckland gun store. However, he argued at his court martial that he didn't know the guns he tried to sell were Army property.

In a decision released on Friday, a Court Martial Appeal Court has overturned the four convictions he had appealed against and quashed the fine.

The court ruled it was not proven that the soldier knew the property was not his to sell, nor was it proven that all the military gear involved in the case was his.

His lawyer, Melinda Mason, said her client had returned his kit and assumed extra equipment was his to sell.

"Nothing was missing, he was just selling items he thought were his and there was just insufficient evidence to sustain the charges ... He just believed he was doing what he was entitled to do."

The court has suppressed other reasons for the acquittal.