Scot jailed in India for four years home for Christmas

Billy Irving was one of six Britons jailed on weapons charges in India in 2013.

Billy Irving: Back in Scotland after years in jail. PA

A former soldier jailed in India for four years has arrived home in time for Christmas.

Billy Irving, from Connel in Argyll, was one of six Britons jailed on weapons charges in 2013.

They had been working as security on an anti-piracy ship that was boarded after allegedly straying into Indian waters.

The group - known as the Chennai Six - were released last month after a years-long campaign and a series of court appeals.

Mr Irving arrived at Glasgow Airport on Wednesday morning, where he was met by his family.

He told waiting media: "I want to give a massive thank you to everyone who has supported the Chennai Six and all the 35 men in India."

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"I just want to thank everyone, it's just so kind," he added. "It feels excellent to be home."

'I want to give a massive thank you to everyone who has supported the Chennai Six and all the 35 men in India.'
Billy Irving

Shortly before his arrival, his family said: "We would like to thank everyone for your support over the last four years.

"We cannot stress enough how much it has helped in the fight to bring billy back and we would have been at a loss without all our family, friends and supporters world wide.

"We'd like to thank the legal team, the charities who supported us especially the mission to seafarers, the Chennai 6 campaign team who have just been incredible, our MPs and the media who helped with our fight for freedom."

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Free: First picture of Scot after release from jail.

The five other members of the Chennai Six are Nick Dunn, 31, of Northumberland; 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.

The group were detained in 2013 when the Indian coastguard boarded their vessel and arrested them for taking weapons into Indian territorial waters.

The charges were quashed when the men argued the weapons were lawfully held for anti-piracy purposes and their paperwork - issued by the UK Government - was in order.

A lower court reinstated the prosecution, however, and they were sentenced to five years in jail.

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