Scot sailor jailed in India over firearms to appeal sentence

Billy Irving was a crew member on board an anti-piracy ship was boarded by Indian coast guard officials in 2013
Billy Irving was a crew member on board an anti-piracy ship was boarded by Indian coast guard officials in 2013
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THE partner of a Scot jailed in India with five other UK nationals over firearms offences has said he will appeal the sentence.

Former soldier Billy Irving, from Connel, Argyll, was among 35 sailors arrested on the anti-piracy ship MV Seaman Guard Ohio in October 2013.

Yesterday, they were sentenced to five years in prison and fined the equivalent of around £30 following a two-year legal battle.

One MP immediately branded the case a “miscarriage of justice”.

Irving’s partner, Yvonne MacHugh, said all six Britons planned to appeal. “After two long years of fighting to get my partner Billy home I’m devastated with today’s verdict,” she said in a statement.

“For the next five years our son won’t have a father at home. Billy has passed on to me all of the evidence that we couldn’t mention while the trial was going on. I intend to release this to the media so that the public can see that the boys did nothing wrong, that everything was legal and that this has been a miscarriage of justice.”

The men were security guards on a US-owned ship when they were arrested in October 2013 on illegal weapons charges. There had been hopes that the latest legal hearings in India would see them free to return to the UK.

They were working for US maritime company AdvanFort providing anti-piracy protection when their ship – MV Seaman Guard Ohio, which had a crew of 35 – was detained and weapons were found.

In the following months the charges were dropped, but the Indian authorities appealed against the decision and the men were detained in India.

The authorities have now won their case.

As well as Mr Irving, the other Britons are Nick Dunn, from Ashington, Northumberland, Ray Tindall from Chester; Paul Towers, from Yorkshire; John Armstrong, from Wigton, Cumbria; and Nicholas Simpson, from Catterick.

Ian Lavery, Labour MP for Wansbeck, said he will continue to campaign for his constituent Nick Dunn and the other five men who have gone through what he called “years of hell”.

Mr Lavery said: “This verdict will have come as a hammer blow, coming only a matter of months after a court had quashed all of the charges.

“The men and their families will be distraught at this news with all noises coming out of the courts in the last few days and weeks pointing towards them returning home in the near future after years of hell. Sadly this bizarre judgment, means the nightmare continues.”