Tuesday 18th April 2006


This story is connected with the television special on ITV1 tonight concerning the Michael Shields case. (9:45pm tonight)

The jailing of a Liverpool football fan in Bulgaria for a crime he claims he did not commit is "a mockery of justice", a former senior police officer said.

Michael Shields, 19, is serving a 15-year jail sentence after his conviction for the attempted murder of a barman in the Black Sea resort of Golden Sands

Former head of Nottinghamshire Police's Serious Crime Squad Peter Coles, who led more than 100 murder investigations, claims Bulgarian police made a series of errors over the teenager's

Mr Coles says British police officers would have been sacked for the alleged blunders he has uncovered and dismissed the evidence as "not worth the paper it's written on".

The distinguished former detective chief superintendent, who was awarded the Queen's Police Medal, was commissioned by ITV1's Tonight programme to conduct a special investigation of Shields's case.

He said: "I was a policeman for 35 years, joining in the 60s when things were not as they are now. I would have been appalled then, never mind now. The identification process was a farce, the court proceedings were a farce, the non-collection of available evidence was a farce.

"It's not acceptable by our own standards. The whole thing is a mockery of justice. I was appalled by it and I am appalled by it."

Shields is waiting to hear if he has been granted a re-trial by the authorities in Bulgaria. His alleged victim, 26-year-old Martin Georgiev, was struck on the head with a paving slab during an early hours brawl outside a chip shop last May.

Shields was holidaying with friends after watching his beloved Liverpool FC win the Uefa Champions League in Turkey. The teenager has always insisted he had nothing to do with the fight and was asleep in his hotel room at the time.

Another Liverpool fan - 20-year-old Graham Sankey - later issued a written "confession" to the attack, which the Bulgarian court refused to consider. Mr Sankey's solicitor has since suggested it may have been an entirely different fight in which his client took part.

For more information visit www.freemichaelshields.com

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