Briton jailed over Iraq gun deaths


Danny Fitzsimons is the first Westerner to be convicted by an Iraqi court since the 2003 US-led invasion

The family of a British security worker jailed for life for killing two colleagues in Iraq have spoken of their relief that he had avoided the death penalty.

Danny Fitzsimons will serve at least 20 years for killing Scot Paul McGuigan and Australian Darren Hoare in August 2009.

Mr McGuigan, 37, a former Royal Marine originally from Peebles in the Scottish Borders, was gunned down alongside Mr Hoare in Iraq’s Green Zone.

Fitzsimons, 30, from Rochdale, Greater Manchester, worked alongside the two men for private security firm ArmourGroup. Mr McGuigan was shot twice in the chest and through the mouth, while Mr Hoare was shot through the temple at close range.

Fitzsimons claimed he was acting in self-defence when he shot his colleagues, asking the judges to consider a plea agreement which would convict him on lesser manslaughter charges.

A friend of Mr McGuigan’s fiancee, Nicci Prestage, 37, said his family were not in Iraq for the verdict, but had been told about the sentence. Fiona Gordon said: “It’s a really difficult and very upsetting time for her.”

Fitzsimons is the first Westerner to stand trial in Iraq since a 2009 US-Iraqi security agreement lifted immunity for foreigners.

He joined the Royal Fusiliers at the age of 16 and was sent on a tour of duty to Kosovo. He started working as a private security contractor after he left the Army.

His stepmother, Liz Fitzsimons, said: “Our hearts go out to the families of Paul McGuigan and Darren Hoare, but we are greatly relieved that Danny has not been sentenced to death.

“We now beseech the Iraqi authorities and the British Government to show proper regard for Danny’s fragile mental state and ensure his welfare and safety when he is transferred to a prison outside the Green Zone.”

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