AN SAS hero has been jailed after a war trophy captured in the Falklands was found at his Hereford home.

Albert Patterson said he kept the 9mm self-loading pistol, which was taken from an Argentinian officer, to remind him of the 22 friends that died in the conflict.

Judge Christopher Plunkett yesterday said that he had been privileged to see Patterson’s service record but parliamentary legislation left him with little choice but to send the former soldier to prison.

“In the wrong hands these weapons could lead to the death of police officers or cause all sorts of mayhem,” Judge Plunkett told Hereford Crown Court.

“It is this risk that parliament is concerned about.”

Patterson had previously admitted possessing a 9mm self-loading pistol, five rounds of expanding ammunition, 177 rounds of 9mm ammunition, four Enfield pistols and a gas self-loading rifle component part.

Stephen Davies, prosecuting, said that Patterson now lived in Thailand when not working overseas and – following a divorce from his wife – his brother went around to his former home to collect his items.

However, his former wife became suspicious of what his brother was up to after items of jewellery had previously gone missing.

She contacted police and they carried out a full search, finding the illegal weapons.

As a result Patterson was arrested in November 2014 when he made full admissions.
Scott Coughtrie, defending, said Patterson had an illustrious career and served for 22 years in the military, first in the parachute regiment and then the SAS.
“He spent a great deal of time abroad protecting our country and our way of life,” he said.
“In his history he has dealt with the most sensitive and dangerous operations this country is to bare.
“These weapons were never loaded or used in the UK and had never been in the public domain.”
“He said he received said pistol as a trophy of war from the Falklands and the ammunition during his military service.
“When asked why he didn’t hand them in he said he worked abroad for 15 of the last 20 years and wasn’t back when there was an amnesty.
“If he handed them back to the military he would have been subject to prosecution. They were memorial and he hoped to decommission them.”
The exact address where the banned items were found was not read out in court but the Hereford Times understands it was close to the city centre.
Mr Coughtrie did confirm that the weapons were in a cellar, alongside “all sorts of paraphernalia” which Patterson wanted to keep with him to remind him of his working life when he retired.
“They weren’t hanging on the wall but were hidden,” added Mr Coughtrie.
“He led a frantic lifestyle involving preparing for an operation, being deployed before returning and preparing for the next operation.
“Things got missed during his 15 years working in the SAS.”
After leaving the SAS, Patterson continued to work abroad for non-government organisations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“This stuff got placed to the back of his mind,” added Mr Coughtrie.
“Patterson has been preparing for the likelihood of custody not only through providing for his family but also working on a project in Afghanistan in the Helmand Province with a local agency making sure they have electricity and water.
“He has a long-term relationship with locals meaning he can access these areas all while risking capture by Isis. He has put his own problems in the rear of his mind.”
Judge Plunkett ordered Patterson to complete 15 months in prison for the possession of the nine mm self loading pistol and a year on supervised probation following his release.
He was given six months imprisonment to run concurrently for the possession of the ammunition and guns.