26/07/2005

Liverpool fan jailed for attempted murder

A Liverpool fan has been sentenced to 15 years in Bulgaria for the attempted murder of a barman, despite another man apparently confessing to the attack.

Eighteen-year-old Michael Shields was found guilty of attacking barman Martin Georgiev, 25, by throwing a brick at his head in a takeaway in Varna on May 30.

Mr Shields, who had been on holiday in the Black Sea resort, after watching Liverpool beat AC Milan in the Champions League final in Istanbul, denied attacking Mr Georgiev. He was arrested several hours after the attack, but said that he had been asleep in his hotel room at the time the attack took place.

Mr Shield's trial began last week, but over the weekend it emerged that another man had apparently admitted responsibility for the attack. Twenty-year-old Graham Sankey admitted responsibility to his solicitor in the UK.

However, the Bulgarian court rejected the confession and the trial against Mr Shields continued.

Mr Shields' uncle, Joey Graney, who was in court when the sentence was passed, told reporters that Michael was "quiet as a mouse" and accused the Bulgarians of wanting a "scapegoat" for the attack on Mr Georgiev.

Mr Shields' family is understood to be planning an appeal against his conviction. However, they will need Mr Sankey to make a confession that is acceptable to the Bulgarians, as his previous confession is not considered as legally admissible evidence.

(KMcA/SP)

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