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'Simon was a lovely guy . . . he did not deserve to be shot dead by terrorists'


Simon Cumbers

Simon Cumbers

Simon Cumbers

THE journalist who was with Simon Cumbers when he was shot dead in Saudi Arabia says he hopes the death sentence handed down to one of the gang will bring some closure.

BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner was left paralysed in the attack 10 years ago which killed Irish cameraman Mr Cumbers.

Mr Gardner said he hoped the end of the decade-long legal process since the killing of Mr Cumbers would give "some comfort" to his colleague's widow and family.

He said: "He was a lovely guy, brilliant cameraman, utterly professional, he didn't have a bad bone in his body and he did not deserve to be shot dead by terrorists like that."

The Meath native's father Robert said he had "mixed feelings" about the sentence handed down to Adil Sa'ad Al-Dubayti Al Mutayri and sympathised with the parents of the condemned man.

Mr Cumbers (36) who had also worked for ITN and Channel 4 was killed instantly and Mr Gardner was wounded by a shot that shattered his thigh bone in an ambush.

It happened while they were filming a piece on al Qa'ida near the capital Riyadh in June 2004.

All but one of the gang responsible - one of whom fired several more shots into Mr Gardner as he lay on the floor - have since died in shootouts or by blowing themselves up, Mr Gardner said.

"There is one who has been imprisoned for nine years and he was given the death sentence yesterday for crimes against the state," Mr Gardner said, at the end of a trial in which the killer was one of several accused of a number of crimes.

"There is an appeals process that they will go through - but he is not contesting the judgment at all.

"He is completely unreformed, unrepentant. So it looks like that will probably be it, which I think draws a bit of a line under the whole thing."

He went on: "I am glad that the criminal justice process is finally coming to an end.

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"It has taken them forever and I hope that it gives some comfort to the family and widow of my wonderful cameraman Simon Cumbers."

In a family statement, Mr Cumbers' father said: "I have mixed feelings about the sentencing. On the one hand, I am pleased that the murderer has had his fate decided and that the long wait is over.

"It won't bring Simon back, but it puts an end to the waiting.

"On the other hand, both Bronagh and I sympathise with Dubayti's parents, who must now suffer that tremendous loss that we feel."

On the first anniversary of the Navan man's death, the Simon Cumbers Media Fund was set up by Irish Aid in conjunction with his family.

The fund aims to promote better coverage of development issues in the Irish media.

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