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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 November 2006, 21:45 GMT
Jailed football fan returns to UK
Michael Shields leaving Bulgaria on 23 November
Michael Shields is set to serve the rest of his sentence in the UK
Liverpool football fan Michael Shields, jailed for 10 years in Bulgaria for the attempted murder of a barman, is back in the UK to complete his prison term.

Shields, 20, from Edge Hill, Liverpool, flew into Gatwick airport on Thursday.

He was sentenced in July 2005 for the attack two months earlier, although he has always denied any involvement.

Officials allowed Shields, who had been in Bulgaria after watching his team win the Champions League in Turkey, to return after a 90,000 fine was paid.

Shields' solicitor told the BBC his client would be taken to Wandsworth Prison in London.

Reacting to the news, his mother Maria, told BBC News: "It's a relief that we are getting him home to England, but our next step is to the Court of Human Rights to take his case there.

"It is just so sad that he's being brought to a prison, he should be being brought to his home."

Michael and Maria Shields
Mr and Mrs Shields say their campaign will continue

Mrs Shields thanked the people of Liverpool and those from further afield who had supported the campaign to get their son transferred.

"If it wasn't for the majority of people helping us we would never have been able to bring Michael home," she added.

His father, also called Michael, said he was relieved his son was finally returning home but saddened that he would be placed behind bars.

He said: "He has spent too much time behind bars already and the fight will not stop here, we will continue to campaign to get my son free."

Louise Ellman, the family's MP, described his transfer as a "major step forward" and paid tribute to the co-operation between the Bulgarian and British authorities.

"We must continue the campaign for justice and an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights is being filed," she said.

Written confession

Ms Ellman said there remained question marks over the way the Shields case had been handled by the courts in Bulgaria, but it could take up to two years for the case to be dealt with.

Louise Ellman, MP for Liverpool Riverside
We must continue the campaign for justice and an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights is being filed
Louise Ellman MP

Shields was jailed for the attempted murder of barman Martin Georgiev, who had a paving slab dropped on his head in the Black Sea resort of Varna in May 2005.

He been holidaying in Bulgaria after travelling from neighbouring Turkey, where he had watched on TV as his team beat AC Milan in the Champions League Final in Istanbul in May.

He has always protested his innocence and told the court he was asleep at the time of the incident.

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.

The 90,000 fine which Bulgarian authorities had requested in order to authorise his transfer to the UK was paid in October, after a high-profile fundraising campaign by the family and supporters.

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11 Oct 06 |  Merseyside
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08 Sep 05 |  Merseyside
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30 May 06 |  Merseyside

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