RAF MILDENHALL, England — In a rare legal maneuver, a special operations airman will be spared going before a British judge on an unlicensed weapons charge after the 100th Judge Advocate General’s office gained jurisdiction over the off-base incident.

The 352nd Special Operations Group airman will now face the military justice system following an Air Force Office of Special Investigations probe into the alleged possession of a shotgun without a British firearm certificate, according to 100th Staff Judge Advocate Lt. Col. Mark T. Allison.

“It’s not unprecedented, but not typical,” Allison said of the jurisdictional maneuver.

The American military in England routinely defers queries on investigations into off-base incidents to the British law enforcement apparatus, citing host-nation jurisdiction.

The airman, who has not been identified by either the Air Force or the Suffolk Constabulary, became the subject of a constabulary investigation following a bizarre incident outside his Mildenhall home earlier this year.

Shortly before 3 a.m. on April 14, the airmen spotted a stranger outside the window of his home on King’s Way.

When approached, the stranger said he was looking for a party, and was told by the airman there was no party at his residence, Allison said.

A short time later, the suspected prowler returned to the airman’s home and a conflict ensued between the two, according to the Suffolk Constabulary, which said it also initially launched an assault investigation, but refused to say who was investigated.

As part of the inquiry, the alleged prowler told police he saw a shotgun inside the airman’s home.

The constabulary filed no charges against the suspected prowler, but reported the information about a possible unlicensed firearm to the Crown Prosecution Service, the British equivalent of an American district attorney’s office.

“We can’t investigate a part of an incident. If a victim has broken the law, we can’t ignore that fact in our investigation,” said Suffolk Constabulary Chief Inspector Stuart Sedgwick. “I can understand the frustration and the perceptions about the incident.”

The airman has continued to serve with the 352nd throughout the probe, and will face military discipline thanks to officials from the 100th Judge Advocate General’s office negotiating jurisdiction from the British system to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

“Do I think that this will go to court-martial, no I do not,” Allison said.

The maximum penalty in Britain for the possession of a firearm without a certificate is five years in prison, according to a Crown Prosecution Service spokesman.

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