'I'm a dead man' – the Briton facing execution in a Baghdad jail

As Danny Fitzsimons awaits trial for murder, Terri Judd hears his parents' concerns

From a police cell crammed with Iraqi prisoners, Danny Fitzsimons texted furiously: "I love you too Dad. I always have and always will. Even though we have had our differences and are very different men. I have been very cruel to you and for that I am sorry from the bottom of my heart, I am sorry."

In three weeks the former soldier will go before a Baghdad court to hear the verdict in his case. If found guilty of murdering two fellow security contractors, the 30-year-old could face the death penalty.

Back in Rochdale, Eric Fitzsimons, 62, contemplated the text. "I have been saying my prayers something rotten," said the former teacher, who has not seen his son since the night in August 2009 when Danny shot fellow ArmorGroup security contractors, former Royal Marine Paul McGuigan and Australian Darren Hoare, and wounded Iraqi Arkhan Mahdi after a whiskey-fuelled brawl in Baghdad's Green Zone.

He is desperate to travel to Iraq, along with Danny's brother Michael, to see his son but the cost of security to enter what is still effectively a war zone is prohibitive.

Last week G4S, the parent company of ArmorGroup that employed Mr Fitzsimons despite the fact he had previously been diagnosed with mental health problems, was awaiting trial for assault and sacked from two other companies, refused to help them.

"His dad and brother really, really need to get out there and see him, for their own peace of mind. At the end of the day, if he was given the death penalty it might be the last time they do see him," explained Mr Fitzsimons's stepmother Liz, also a teacher. "Either scenario frightens the living daylights out of me. We know people are saying there are two men dead. But it has been a tragedy for everybody."

Last Saturday, just before the second day of his two-day murder trial, Mr Fitzsimons called in a panic, terrified he was about to be transferred from a police cell in the Green Zone to Baghdad's infamous Rusafa jail. "I am a dead man. It is full of Al Qa'ida and Mujahideen. They will kill me," he repeated. He said previously: "Not a minute, not a second goes by when I don't wish I could turn back time but I can't."

In another text, he wrote: "I despise the way my mind plays tricks and the voices only I can hear are beyond my control. I hate them. They never leave me in peace. My heart is solid gold but my head is well * truly out there."

The family is relying on appeals in local papers to raise funds for a visit to Baghdad. So far they have collected £900 but security alone for the trip would cost them £16,000. On Sunday, Mr Fitzsimons, the first Westerner to be tried under the new Iraqi government, told a three-judge panel he was acting in self-defence.

He denied murdering the two westerners and attempting to kill Mr Mahdi but asked the judges to consider a plea of manslaughter. The panel is now examining psychiatric reports.

Mr Fitzsimons Snr and his wife make no excuses for him but they point out he has been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They want him brought home and dealt with by a British legal system with appropriate psychiatric treatment.

A document dating back to 2002 detailed how Mr Fitzsimons had been "delighted" to join the 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, but remained haunted by what he had seen previously serving with The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, in Kosovo. He talked of decomposing bodies in mass graves and the severed limbs of an 11-year-old boy he had found in a fridge. He was suffering from hyper-vigilance, flash backs and anxiety.

Upon discharge from the army in 2004, Mr Fitzsimons took up security work in Iraq during which he witnessed a friend being blown apart by a roadside bomb. Back home he was increasingly getting into trouble and suicidal. He covered his flat with scrawlings about death and lost friends. PTSD was confirmed. Yet in August 2009 he flew to Baghdad to begin a contract with ArmorGroup. Within 36 hours he had killed Mr McGuigan and Mr Hoare and wounded Mr Mahdi.

G4S, which had a turnover of £7bn in 2009 and announced pre-tax profits of £500m, sacked Mr Fitzsimons. It said it had provided a "significant contribution" to his legal expenses. A spokesman said the company's main reason for refusing any more help for the family was because it would distress the relatives of the dead men.

He added: "We know there is still a high level of emotion over the case from our employees in Iraq and, as such, do not believe we should impose further on the high levels of integrity they have shown in providing such dedicated and professional duty of care to Mr Fitzsimons over such a long period."

Mrs Fitzsimons said: "It has got to the point of thinking how much longer can this go on, how much longer do we have to live in this nightmare?"

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA powerful collection of reportage on Egypt’s cycle of awakening and relapse
News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
News
Lane Del Rey performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people... but none of them helped me get a record deal, insists Lana Del Rey
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British author Howard Jacobson has been long-listed for the Man Booker Prize
books
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Sport
Louis van Gaal watches over Nani
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
transfersColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Insight Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k – North London

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum plus 23 days holiday and pension scheme: Clearwater ...

People Change Manager

£260 - £325 per day: Progressive Recruitment: IT Trainer: E-Commerce Experienc...

Associate Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 business...

Test Lead - London - Investment Banking

£475 - £525 per day: Orgtel: Test Lead, London, Investment Banking, Technical ...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn