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Liverpool fan awaits apeal ruling within 30 days

Date: 16.10.2005

A Liverpool fan jailed in Bulgaria shall wait 30 days to hear the decision of Varna court on his appeal.

Michael Shields, 19, appeared Friday before a court in Varna to appeal against the 15-year sentence he was given after being convicted of the attempted murder of a bartender in the Golden Sands resort in May - a crime to which another Reds' fan later admitted. Yet, the 20-year-old Graham Sankey has refused to come back to Bulgaria and give evidence in person.

Shields had been holidaying in the Black Sea resort of Golden Sands after seeing his team win the Champions League final. He was jailed for 15 years, but insisted he was asleep in bed when a concrete slab was dropped on Martin Georgiev's head.

Sankey issued a written confession to the attack through a Merseyside-based solicitor, but the document was rejected by the trial judge.

If the sentence is reduced to three years or less, there is a chance that Michael Shields could finish his sentence in a UK prison, lawyers commented. His defence is striving to re-qualify the crime and thus plead for a lighter verdict.

The teenager continues to insist he played no part in the attack, and plans to appeal against his conviction before a court in Sofia.

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