Chennai Six Win Four Year Fight Against Weapons Charges

28 November 2017, 10:25

The Chennai Six

The six former British soldiers, including a man from Ashington, have been acquitted of the weapons smuggling charges that have seen them detained in India for four years.

The so-called Chennai Six, who had been guards on a ship to combat piracy in the Indian Ocean, won an appeal against their convictions on Monday.

They were first arrested in October 2013 after being charged with smuggling weapons and ammunition.

Lisa Dunn, the sister of Nick Dunn, has told Heart this morning she received a "lovely surprise" call from her brother to confirm he's been released from prison.

She's now boarded a flight to India to see him.

Yvonne McHugh, partner of Billy Irving from Argyll and Bute, also confirmed the men had been released on Tuesday.

Ms McHugh said: "They were released about two hours ago and are now at the British Embassy with consular staff.

"They will just go to a hotel in Chennai and will be able to sleep in a bed and have a proper shower for the first time in about two years."

The other men are John Armstrong, 30, of Wigton, Cumbria, Nicholas Simpson, 47, of Catterick, North Yorkshire, Ray Tindall, 42, of Chester, and Paul Towers, 54, of Pocklington, East Yorkshire.

They could now face a wait of possibly several weeks before documentation comes through which will allow them to return to the UK.

Once Mr Irving was freed, he was able to speak to Ms McHugh on the embassy's phone and update her on their situation.

Ms McHugh said: "Billy called straight away, he couldn't quite believe it had happened.

"He's just over the moon and didn't think they would be released. He took everything that was said with a pinch of salt and didn't believe it.

"We are hoping they could be home in two weeks. If it's less than that it will be a miracle."

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UPDATED 27th November 2017

The six former British soldiers, including a man from Ashington, have been acquitted of the weapons smuggling charges that have seen them detained in India for four years.

They were first jailed in October 2013 on weapons charges while working as security guards on ships to combat piracy in the Indian Ocean - and always maintained their innocence. 

The men are are Nick Dunn, 31, from Ashington, Billy Irving, 37, from Argyll and Bute, John Armstrong, 30, of Wigton, Cumbria, Nicholas Simpson, 47, of Catterick, North Yorkshire, Ray Tindall, 42, of Chester, and Paul Towers, 54, of Pocklington, East Yorkshire.

They will now wait to see when they will be allowed home from India to their families.

 

Lisa Dunn, the sister of Nick Dunn said: "I'm absolutely elated," 

"There are just no words how we truly feel. How much relief we feel. How happy we are,"

"It's just the most incredible news. We've waited so long for this day,"

"My brother was one million per cent innoncent... and now he's got his freedom back."

A post on the Chennai 6 supporter's Facebook Page confirmed the news earlier:  

The Indian authorities will now decide whether they agree with the outcome or wish to appeal. Another appeal would mean the men might be released from prison but not allowed back to the UK.

The six are among 35 crew members who have now all been acquitted. Earlier this month, the captain of the vessel allowed home to Ukraine.