Page last updated at 17:17 GMT, Saturday, 14 November 2009

Support for murder accused guard

Danny Fitzsimons
Mr Fitzsimons is accused of shooting dead two colleagues

The family of a former soldier who is facing the death penalty in Iraq have stepped up their campaign to have him brought back to the UK.

Danny Fitzsimons, 33, of Middleton, Greater Manchester, is accused of the murder of two ArmorGroup colleagues in Baghdad's Green Zone.

His supporters say he suffers from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of tours of Kosovo and Iraq.

About 100 people attended a meeting in Bury to rally support for his case.

Paul McGuigan, of Peebles, Scotland, and Australian Darren Hoare, both 37, were shot dead on 9 August.

All three men worked as private security guards for British security firm, ArmorGroup.

The whole situation is an absolute tragedy and we are right here in the middle of it
Liz Fitzsimons, step-mother

Last week the fiancee of Mr McGuigan, Nicci Prestage, told the BBC she wanted Iraq to deliver the justice it "saw fit".

Ms Prestage, 36, recently gave birth to the couple's daughter and she said they were the real victims.

Liz Fitzsimons, the accused's step-mother, said: "As a family we would like to say how sorry we are for the two families who have lost fathers, husbands, sons.

"The whole situation is an absolute tragedy and we are right here in the middle of it.

"The issue today is to bring Danny back to get the help and treatment that everybody here knows he desperately, desperately needs."

Dark hole

Mrs Fitzsimons said the family had recently received a text message from the former soldier, wishing his father Eric a happy birthday.

But most contact is conducted through John Tipple, who works for the campaign group Reprieve.

He told the meeting: "I can say that Danny's state of mind is absolutely typical of someone who suffers from post-traumatic stress," said Mr Tipple.

"Sometimes he can be very coherent, almost humorous, but most of the time he's in a dark hole.

"He's literally in a dark hole if you've seen him in the dungeon that I've seen him in."

Reprieve said it had finally appointed a lawyer for Mr Fitzsimons' case on Friday.

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