Page last updated at 14:16 GMT, Wednesday, 3 June 2009 15:16 UK

Linfield captain released on bail

William 'Winkie' Murphy
William 'Winkie' Murphy is the captain of Linfield

A Belfast footballer charged with counterfeit currency charges has been released on bail from a Spanish jail.

Linfield captain William 'Winkie' Murphy appeared before a court in Madrid on Wednesday morning.

He was arrested last month in Torremolinos on suspicion of having brought counterfeit money into Spain on a previous visit two years ago.

He will appear in court again within the next two months.

His bail conditions state that he can only return to Belfast with the express permission of a judge.

He was accompanied in court on Wednesday by his father and a Spanish defence lawyer.

The footballer's Belfast solicitor, Denis Moloney, said: "The first hurdle was obviously to get Mr Murphy out of custody, we're now look at getting him back to Northern Ireland.

"Needless to say, his wife and family are very relieved."

Mr Murphy's appearance at the Audiencia Nacional - Spain's national criminal court - lasted just five minutes.

Plea bargain

He will have to report to the police every two weeks while on bail.

It is thought he will initially stay at a relative's house in southern Spain.

William 'Winkie' Murphy
Mr Murphy cannot return home without the judge's permission

The original accusation, of bringing counterfeit money into Spain, carries a minimum prison sentence of eight years.

However the player's lawyer is understood to be negotiating a plea bargain - in which Mr Murphy might admit to unwittingly handling false bank notes, in return for a non-custodial sentence.

Wearing a short-sleeve shirt, dark trousers and handcuffs, Mr Murphy looked relaxed.

Shortly before the hearing he told the BBC's Spain Correspondent Steve Kingstone he was being treated well and sent his thanks to family members and club supporters back home.

Asked about the accusations, he said they related to a night at disco in Mallorca two years ago.

He denied knowingly having committed any crime.



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