Ex-soldier Danny Fitzsimons is facing life imprisonment in Iraq after being convicted of murder. Danny has serious mental health problems as a result of his years of service with the British army, and his work as a private security contractor in Iraq.
Danny had always wanted to join the army. He joined the Royal Fusiliers at the first opportunity, aged just 16, and was sent on his first tour shortly after his 18th birthday. The letters he sent to his family show a young man that was living his dream, boasting about his training regime and how many press-ups he could do.
However, whilst on his first tour to Kosovo, Danny experienced some extremely disturbing events as his unit began to uncover mass graves. Danny also discovered the dismembered body of a child who had delivered the troops bread and whom he had befriended.
Upon leaving the army, Danny started to work as a private security contractor in Iraq, where he witnessed more traumatic events, including the death of a close friend: “The truck in front of him in his convoy was hit by an IED. The plastic doors of the truck sealed shut in the heat, and one of his team was shut inside. His friend screamed for Danny to get him out, but Danny could not break the window of the truck as it was bulletproof glass. He was forced to watch his friend burn inside the truck unable to help.”
In May 2008, Danny was diagnosed as suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Despite this, in August 2009 Danny was hired by Armour Group and sent out to Iraq without undergoing a full medical assessment. This despite Human Resources Director, Christopher Beese stating in September 2004: “It seems extraordinary that the doorman of a night club [...] may have to be vetted and licensed while the same man can be equipped with a rifle, an armoured vehicle and be engaged to protect diamond concessions for a foreign regime in a clear breach of the public interest and perhaps even in contravention of human rights [but he] needs no such regulation.”
Within 36 hours of his arrival, the incident took place which saw Paul McGuigan and Darren Hoare die.
Armour Group has since been taken over by G4S, a company mired in controversy following the disclosure of bizarre hazing and drunkenness at the Embassy in Kabul. G4S has tried to wash its hands of Danny with a payment of $75,000 towards his legal fees. However, the nature of a capital trial and the added difficulties of the situation in Iraq meant that a proper defence would cost $1.8 million – amounting to 0.0002% of G4S's annual turnover of $9.504 billion. Their offer of $75,000 works out at just 0.000008% of turnover.
On 13 June 2010, an Iraqi court ordered that Danny undergo a series of mental health assessments. The hearings in Danny's case were repeatedly adjourned while Danny waited for the assessments to take place, which eventually happened in December 2010.
On 29 December 2010, the court heard evidence from the prosecution and called witnesses. On 23 January 2011, the court heard further evidence and Danny was called to testify. The court announced its verdict on 28 February 2011, finding Danny guilty of murder and sentencing him to life imprisonment. This sentence was upheld on appeal.