King set to appeal guilty verdict

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Marlon King is reportedly preparing to appeal against his conviction and 18-month prison sentence for sexual assault and actual bodily harm.

The Wigan striker was yesterday found guilty and jailed over an incident which took place in a London nightclub in December while he was on loan at Hull.

He learned within hours of his conviction that his club have decided to sack him - and it was also made clear last night that his chances of rehabilitation depend entirely upon his acceptance of his problems and wrong-doing.

King's agent Tony Finnegan, however, spelled out that his client apparently has no intention of conceding his guilt.

Finnegan told BBC Radio 5 Live: "No one saw this coming in light of the evidence. He's very, very disappointed - because clearly, as he said in his evidence, it's mistaken identity. He didn't do that.

"He'll be devastated, sitting in a cell with someone tonight. But he's a grown man; he's been there before and he'll take it on the chin.

"I asked Marlon and he said 'I'm not guilty, Tony - I didn't do it. I want the British justice system to find me not guilty'."

Finnegan - who also expressed disappointment at Wigan's decision and the failure of the Professional Footballers' Association to support King - is already considering the player's options, should his appeal be successful in securing an early release.

Wigan chairman Dave Whelan confirmed King will never play for his club again.

He told Sky Sports News: "We have to follow the rules and regulations, which means we will have to give him 14 days' notice that his contract will be cancelled.

"He is absolutely sacked - we will not tolerate football players who get sent to jail for 18 months. As far as we are concerned, he is finished with football at Wigan Athletic."

King was last year celebrating both his wife's pregnancy and scoring a winning goal hours earlier when he was repeatedly "cold-shouldered" by women revellers in London's packed Soho Revue Bar.

When a slightly-built university student became the latest to recoil from his touch, he lost his temper and in an outburst of "completely gratuitous violence" lashed out, "smashing" her to the floor, London's Southwark Crown Court heard.

The 29-year-old, from Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire, claimed he was a victim of "mistaken identity".

But after hearing overwhelming evidence from a string of witnesses, including a football coach who insisted he was the assailant, the jury decided he was lying.

King also served five months behind bars in 2002 after being caught at the wheel of a stolen £30,000 BMW - while he has found himself in the dock on seven previous occasions for dishonesty, various motoring offences and violence against women.

Asked whether help for King will be forthcoming should he seek it on his release, Peter Kay - of the Sporting Chance rehabilitation clinic - explained the player must do so in good faith.

"This will give Marlon time to reflect on his life in prison and the ramifications of his actions," said Kay.

"We would support any person who is willing to address their issues and become a better person."