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Last Updated: Monday, 30 October 2006, 14:39 GMT
Jailed fan anticipates UK return
Michael Shields
Shields says he is feeling positive about his return to the UK
Jailed Liverpool fan Michael Shields has spoken of his relief at his impending return from Bulgaria.

Shields, 19, was jailed in July 2005 for the attempted murder of a barman during a brawl in Varna. He has consistently denied any involvement.

Last week, authorities authorised his transfer to Britain to serve the rest of his 10-year sentence.

Speaking to the BBC, Shields said: "I'm just happy it's over and it can only get better from now on."

He has spent almost 18 months behind bars in Bulgaria after travelling to the Black Sea resort in the wake of Liverpool's Champions League victory in May 2005.

You focus more on different things like writing letters to people, looking forward to the visits
Michael Shields

His family has lobbied tirelessly to prove his innocence, backed by a campaign team based in his native Liverpool.

"They've been the ones doing everything while I've been sat here doing nothing," said Shields.

"They've helped the family through everything, especially my mum and dad and sisters.

"Without their support it would be a lot worse for them."

The teenager revealed that after a difficult first few months he was now coping with life in a Bulgarian prison.

"You focus more on different things like writing letters to people, looking forward to the visits - they pass the time," he said.

"I've learnt to take it better now than I did at the beginning."

Martin Georgiev
Martin Georgiev suffered a serious head injury

Authorities in Bulgaria said that Shields could be transferred to the UK because the court-imposed 90,000 fine had been paid.

The money was collected by his family and supporters in a fundraising campaign.

Shields does not yet know exactly when he will be moved, although it is expected to be within days.

"I feel like a bit of a dream sometimes, thinking I can have a dream about home and it can seem real.

"Then I wake up and think, 'Oh no'. I'm still here and still waiting to go home."

Shields was convicted of the attempted murder of Martin Georgiev, who was attacked with a concrete slab.

Shields claimed to the court that he was asleep at the time.

Another Liverpool man, 20-year-old Graham Sankey, made a written confession to the attack, although his solicitor now insists his client was referring to a different brawl.




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SEE ALSO
Jailed fan set for return to UK
26 Oct 06 |  Merseyside
Jailed supporter denied retrial
28 Apr 06 |  Merseyside
MP blasts delays over jailed fan
27 Apr 06 |  Merseyside
'Cruel' twist in fan retrial bid
21 Apr 06 |  Merseyside
Liverpool fan jailed in Bulgaria
26 Jul 05 |  Merseyside

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