Wrongly Convicted Database Record


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John Wilson Armstrong



Arms Smuggling


"5 years & 3,000 rupee fine"

Years Imprisoned:


Year Crime:


Year Convicted:


Year Cleared:


U.S. State or Country of Crime:


County or Region of Crime:

Tamil Nadu

City of Crime:



Judicially Exonerated Released

Summary of Case:

"Paul Towers, Billy Irving, Nick Dunn, John Armstrong aka John Wilson Armstrong, Nicholas Simpson, Ray Tindall were British ex-servicemen among 35 people wrongly convicted on January 11, 2016 of arms smuggling in India's state of Tamil Nadu. Their prosecutions were based on their arrest on October 12, 2013 when the Indian Navy boarded their anti-piracy vessel the MV Seaman Guard Ohio, tasked with protecting merchant seamen in some of the most dangerous waters in the world. They were accused of entering Indian waters without permission, and a search of their vessel discovered 35 firearms -- including semi-automatic weapons -- and 6,000 rounds of ammunition. The 35 people -- six Brits, 14 Estonian, 12 Indian and three Ukrainians -- all worked for AdvanFort, a maritime security company that provided protection for ships going through an area known as "pirates' alley" between the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. The ship's captain was Dudnyk Valentyn of Ukraine. After their arrests they were jailed pending their trial. The press dubbed the six Brits the "Chennai six." The prosecution of the 35 was based on the argument that they were illegally smuggling the arms and ammunition into India. The defense of the 35 men was their vessel accidentally strayed into Indian waters as they headed for emergency guel and supplies, and the weapons were lawfully held for anti-piracy purposes. The Brits were released on bail in April 2014 with the condition they had to report to the police twice a day, and without their passports they couldn't leave India. The Indian government appealed after in July 2014 the trial judge granted a pretrial motion and dismissed the charges on the basis the ship had the right permits and clearance for them to have arms as they were an anti-piracy unit. While the prosecution appealed the Brits and their codefendants were unable to leave India because India's Q Branch -- the Intelligence Service -- held their passports. In July 2015 the Indian Supreme Court reinstated the charges and ordered that all 35 defendants stand trial for illegal weapons possession. After their trial, in January 2016 they were each convicted and taken into custody. Each of the 35 was sentenced to five years in prison and fined 3,000 rupees (US$46). They appealed, and their appeal hearing was on November 20, 2017. On November 27, 2017 the Madurai bench of the High Court in Chennai set-aside their convictions and ordered their acquittals. They Court ordered their release from custody, the return of any money paid toward their fines, and the return of their passports. It was reported that after the men's arrest their US employer, AdvanFort, “walked away” from the situation and did not pay their salaries or help with legal and travel fees."

Conviction Caused By:

Innocence Proved By:

"On November 27, 2017 the Madurai bench of the High Court in Chennai set-aside their convictions and ordered their acquittals. They Court ordered their release from custody, the return of any money paid toward their fines, and the return of their passports."

Defendant Aided By:

Compensation Awarded:

Was Perpetrator Identified?

Age When Imprisoned:


Age When Released:





Information Source 1:

"Bootle pirate hunter has conviction overturned after four years in Indian jail, By Alan Weston, Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, UK), November 27, 2017"

Information Location 1:


Information Source 2:

"Chennai Six' former British soldiers released after four years in Indian jail, By Saptarshi Ray (New Delhi, IND), Telegraph (London), November 27, 2017"

Information Location 2:


Information Source 3:

"India firearms charge ex-soldiers sent to jail, By Staff, BBC News, January 11, 2016"

Information Location 3:


Information Source 4:

"Madras HC Acquits 35 Crew Members Of Anti-Piracy Ship MV Seaman Guard Ohio [Read Judgment], By Manu Sebastian, www.LiveLaw.in, December 4, 2017"

Information Location 4:


Information Source 5:

"Dudnik Valentyn, et al. v. The Inspector of Police (Tharuvaikualm), No. Crl.A(MD)Nos.41, 43 and 44 of 2016 and CRL MP(MD)Nos.5452 to 5454 of 2016 (Madurai Bench of Madras High Court, 11-27-2017) (Setting aside convictions of all 35 defendants and ordering their acquittal.)"

Information Location 5:

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Innocents Database Created and Maintained by Hans Sherrer innocents@forejustice.org

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