Bulgaria denies fan's appeal

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The Independent Online

A British football fan jailed in Bulgaria for the attempted murder of a barman had his sentence reduced from 15 to 10 years yesterday, but was denied a retrial.

Michael Shields, 19, was jailed last year after he was accused of taking part in a brawl in the Black Sea resort of Golden Sands last May.

Shields denied he took part in the attack, saying he was asleep in the hotel when the incident occurred. He had been on holiday there after watching Liverpool win the Champions League in Turkey.

In July last year Graham Sankey, 20, also from Liverpool, signed a confession to the attack, which was sent to the Bulgarian authorities, in which he admitted throwing a slab which seriously injured a barman. Mr Sankey's solicitor now says he was referring to a different brawl.

Shields' father, also called Michael, who was in Bulgaria to hear the verdict, said: "We are so angry and disappointed ... we were hoping the court would overturn the conviction, or give him a retrial so he could prove his innocence."

Shields appealed against his conviction to Bulgaria's supreme court last month. But the court reimposed a fine of £71,000, which had been reduced to £42,000 at an earlier appeal.