Life term for killer of guard
THE killer of Willowbank-based security contractor Darren Hoare has been sentenced to life in prison.
In a Baghdad court, 30-year-old Briton Danny Fitzsimons was found guilty of murdering his ArmorGroup colleagues Paul McGuigan and Hoare in Iraq in August 2009, as well as attempting to murder an Iraqi man, Arkhan Mahdi.
In handing down the verdict, the head of the three-judge panel said Fitzsimons’ mental condition was considered when deciding the sentence, but found he killed the two men and tried to kill the third.
“So the court issues its sentence according to ... the Iraqi criminal code and sentences you to 20 years in prison,” the judge said.
The former security contractor admitted shooting the men but claimed it was in self-defence.
Last night his stepmother, Liz Fitzsimons, said the family was relieved that he had not been given the death penalty but still had serious concerns about where he would be transferred from the police cell in the International Zone, where he has been held for the past 18 months.
Mr Hoare, a former RAAF Base Amberley serviceman who lived at Willowbank, left behind a wife Mollyjoe, two sons James and Trent, and a daughter Jennifer.
Hoare spent several years at RAAF Base Amberley as a security specialist before leaving the Australian Defence Force to join ArmorGroup.
He was also a well regarded member of the Ipswich Eagles AFL team.
Mr Fitzsimons is the first Westerner in an Iraqi criminal court since the 2003 American-led invasion began.
The wounded Iraqi’s lawyer, Salam Abdulkarim, expressed disappointment that Fitzsimons did not receive the death penalty.
“In Iraqi law, in my experience, he should have been sentenced to death. Maybe the court wanted to avoid problems with Britain, or maybe they wanted to give a sentence that was compatible with British law,” he added, alluding to Britain’s opposition to the death penalty.
McGuigan was shot twice in the chest and through the mouth, while Hoare was shot through the temple at close range.
McGuigan’s family has rejected Fitzsimons’ account of the night, pointing out that McGuigan had been speaking to his fiancee via webcam for most of it, and had given no sign he had been drinking or fighting.