Manchester

Danny Fitzsimons says 'only God' can judge him

A British security guard who has been jailed for killing two colleagues in Baghdad said ahead of the sentencing that "only God" could judge him.

Danny Fitzsimons, 30, from Rochdale, admitted killing Paul McGuigan, from the Scottish Borders, and Australian Darren Hoare in August 2009.

Fitzsimons, who claimed to be suffering from post-traumatic stress, was convicted of murder by an Iraqi court on Monday.

Fitzsimons said he shot the men in self-defence after an altercation broke out.

Speaking from his cell ahead of the sentence, he told the BBC his worst fear was being hanged but he also dreaded life imprisonment "in one of the worst jails in the world".

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

'One eye open'

Fitzsimons, Mr McGuigan and Mr Hoare had all been working for British security firm ArmorGroup, based in the Iraqi capital's fortified Green Zone, at the time of the shooting.

The former paratrooper, from Middleton, said he was held in a 6ft by 6ft (1.8m by 1.8m) cell with 11 other men while waiting for the verdict.

He was held in a police station in the international zone.

Asked what his biggest fear was ahead of the hearing, he replied: "Obviously hanging, nobody wants to hang, and possibly life imprisonment in one of the worst jails in the world.

"It's a jail run by militia. I'll be around thousands of people that I've been at war with since 2005, who've killed scores of American soldiers, British soldiers, military contractors.

"I'll be slung in with those people. You can't sleep with one eye open can you?"

'They hate me'

Fitzsimons said he would remain defiant if the court decided on the death penalty.

"I'll just accept it... it's out of my hands. I'll die proud and I'll die strong. Only God can judge me at that point," he said.

The former soldier has spoken previously of his sorrow at the killings and for the families of the victims, but he told the BBC he had given up trying to contact them.

"They hate me. There's nothing I can say that can change their opinion. So I'm not going to bother," he said.

Nicci Prestage, from Droylsden, Greater Manchester, was due to marry 37-year-old Paul McGuigan in 2010 after giving birth to his child.

She has previously said she just wants the court "to give justice the way they see fit".

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