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At last former soldier
is homeward bound

    By Nicola Watson  
       
   
THE BEST Christmas present ever is coming to one Holderness mum as her son flies back to England after being imprisoned in India for over four years. Former soldier Ray Tindall, 42, originally from Hull, was expected to land on British soil in the early hours of this morning (Thursday). As the Gazette went to press his mother Carole Edmonds from Paull spoke of her relief and joy. “We’ve had so many ups and downs since October 12, 2013, when Ray was arrested. He’ll be spending Christmas with us. Ray coming home at last is the best Christmas present I could hope for,” said Mrs Edmonds, 61, formerly of Keyingham. “Ray is heading straight to Chester to see his little girl and then he is getting the train up to see us on Saturday and his grandson who he has never met. It has all happened so quickly, this is something we have worked for and hoped for, for such a long time. We really can’t believe it and I don’t think Ray can. He rang me today (Tuesday), he is looking forward to being back on British soil and that is when he will believe it. I can’t put it into words how I feel, to think that this is the real thing this time and that he is going to be home for Christmas.” Mr Tindall was one of six former British soldiers imprisoned for alleged firearms offences after the US-owned anti-pirate vessel on which they were working strayed into Indian waters resulting in weapons charges and imprisonment in India in October 2013. He was imprisoned along with his colleagues in one of India’s most notorious jails in Chennai, enduring appalling conditions. Among the six being released are Major Nicholas Simpson, originally from Cottingham, and Paul Towers of Pocklington. The men always denied the charges which were initially quashed but later reinstated. The former soldiers appealed and news broke on Monday, November 27 that a judge had ruled that they be acquitted. In a joint statement they said: “After four long years, we, along with the 29 crew of the Seaman Guard Ohio, have been cleared by the Appeal Court. We want to thank the court for reaching this decision. We are all in good health and eager to return to our families and friends. “We want to thank our legal counsel, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and The Mission to Seafarers for helping us reach this point. We have been glad to receive the many messages of support and care packages during our time in prison, and ask for time to reflect on our experience and to prepare for home.” All six men were issued with exit clearance certificates on Tuesday, December 5 and were due to leave India in two groups on Tuesday and Wednesday evening. East Yorkshire MP Sir Greg Knight said: “The frustrations have been that we have been dealing outside of the scope of the British jurisdiction. I am delighted that at long last the Indian Judicial System has achieved the right verdict and the men are coming home. The long delays that have occurred have been frustrating and deplorable.”
 
         
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