Former British soldier denies being 'murdering psycho'

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The Independent Online

A former British soldier charged with killing two security guards in Iraq angrily denied during a court appearance that he was “murdering psycho”.

Daniel Fitzsimons was sent for psychiatric evaluation minutes after the start of his trial in Baghdad on charges shooting dead fellow Briton Paul McGuigan and Australian Darren Hoare after a drunken brawl while all three were working as private contractors in the Iraqi capital. An Iraqi, Arkan Mehdi Saleh was injured in the same incident.

Mr Fitzsimons had been treated for PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) in the UK before he went to Iraq as a security guard. His family back in England said he will be entering a ‘not guilty’ plea on grounds of self-defence.

After the hearing Mr Fitzsimons, 29, told journalists “When my side of the story gets out, the people who have labelled me as a murdering psycho will be eating humble pie.” He claimed that he had been goaded and threatened by the men and opened fire to protect himself. “They came in to wind me up……Those fuckers came to my room to do me in and they tried to do me in."

Mr Fitzsimons’ family and legal team are attempting to have his case heard in Britain. But the former paratrooper said that the British embassy had made little effort to have him transferred back home. “ I accept I will be tried here but I expect to serve my time in the UK where my trial can be looked at and I can be offered some support.”

Mr Fitsimons’ stepmother, Liz Fitzsimons, said “We know that Daniel faces the death penalty and we were very shocked when the British citzen was executed in China. We have started a support group and we have written to the Ministry of Justice to make sure that it is not all left until the last minute as happened with the Chinese case.

“Daniel was defending himself when the shooting took place and we believe that when the court hears how his life was under threat they would see he was left with no choice.

Mr McGuigan, 37, a former Royal Marines commando from Peebles-shire in the Scottish Borders, had a son and was about to become a father for a second time. Father-of-three Mr Hoare, 37, from Queensland, served in Iraq as a member of the Royal Australian Air Force before starting work as a private security contractor.