Footballer Evans cleared of raping teenager

Ched Evans arriving at Cardiff Crown Court with his fiancee Natasha MasseyImage copyright
Wales News Service

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Ched Evans arrived at Cardiff Crown Court with his fiancee Natasha Massey

Footballer Ched Evans has been found not guilty of raping a 19-year-old woman in a hotel room.

The Chesterfield striker was accused of attacking her at a Premier Inn in Rhuddlan, Denbighshire, on 30 May 2011.

Mr Evans, 27, was originally found guilty of rape at Caernarfon Crown Court in 2012, but this conviction was quashed in April.

He was found not guilty of the same charge at Cardiff Crown Court on Friday.

In a statement read out on Mr Evans’s behalf after the verdict, the footballer said: “In the early hours of 30 May 2011, an incident occurred in north Wales that was to change my life and the lives of others forever. That incident did not involve the commission of a criminal offence and today I am overwhelmed with relief that the jury agreed.

“I would like to thank my legal team… for their tireless efforts upon my behalf.

“Thanks go, too, to my friends and family; most notably my fiancee, Natasha, who chose, perhaps incredibly, to support me in my darkest hour.

“Whilst my innocence has now been established, I wish to make it clear that I wholeheartedly apologise to anyone who might have been affected by the events of the night in question.”

A jury of seven women and five men took just two hours to clear him following a two-week trial.

There were gasps and cries in the public gallery when the verdict was read out, with members of Mr Evans’s group breaking down.

Mr Evans was then discharged from the dock and embraced Miss Massey.

He always denied having sex with the woman while she was too drunk to consent.

He insisted she agreed to let him “join in” while she was having consensual sex with fellow footballer Clayton McDonald, 27 – who was cleared of rape at the original trial – after a night out in Rhyl.

His legal team argued the prosecution was “built around the myth” the complainant was too drunk to agree to sex.

The prosecution alleged the woman did “not have the freedom or capacity to consent”.

They said Mr Evans treated her with a “callous, self-centred indifference essentially indistinguishable from utter contempt”.

However, the jury cleared Mr Evans of the single charge after retiring to deliberate at about 11:40 GMT on Friday.

Mr Evans was jailed for five years after his original conviction in 2012 before he was released in October 2014.

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His conviction was referred to the Court of Appeal following a 10-month investigation by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), which found new information not raised at his original trial.

Mr Evans – who was playing for Sheffield United at the time of his conviction – came close to joining League One side Oldham Athletic in January 2015.

However the club pulled out of the deal following threats to their staff and pressure from sponsors.

He also had an offer to use the Blades’ training facilities rescinded in November 2014 after more than 170,000 people signed a petition against the move.

Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill asked for her name to be removed from a stand at Bramall Lane if he re-signed for the South Yorkshire side and three club patrons resigned.

He signed for Chesterfield in June after his successful conviction appeal.

The Football Association of Wales said it would not comment on the verdict.

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