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Footballer Ched Evans cleared of raping teenager after retrial

Evans previously served two-and-a-half years in jail for rape.

Footballer Ched Evans arrives at Cardiff Crown Court with girlfriend Natasha Massey.
Footballer Ched Evans arrives at Cardiff Crown Court with girlfriend Natasha Massey.
Image: Ben Birchall

Updated 4.28pm 

FOOTBALLER CHED EVANS has been found not guilty of rape following a retrial in Wales.

The now 27-year-old served two-and-a-half years of a five-year sentence after being found guilty of raping a 19-year-old woman at a hotel in 2011.

After his case was referred to the Court of Appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), Evans was granted a retrial.

The new trial had been ongoing for the past two weeks and he has now been found not guilty.

The jury reached the verdict in just three hours after being asked to consider the evidence by trial judge Mrs Justice Nicola Davies.

“Mr Evans you are discharged and you can leave the dock,” Davies told Evans as she brought the eight-day trial to a close.

After his release from prison, Evans had campaigned to overturn his conviction and even launched a website in which he sought to draw support to his cause.

Evans had told Cardiff Crown Court that he had sex with the woman but that it had been consensual.

In his defence, Evans said he walked into a hotel room where fellow footballer Clayton McDonald was having sex with the woman, adding McDonald then asked her if he could join in, to which she replied: “Yes.”

McDonald had also previously been cleared of raping the woman.

Ched Evans court case Footballer Ched Evans and partner Natasha Massey outside Cardiff Crown Court after the verdict was delivered. Source: PA Images

Evans was adamant he had consensual sex with the woman before leaving via a fire exit door when he realised he was cheating on his girlfriend.

Giving evidence from behind a screen last week, the woman has told the court that she had no memory of consenting to sex with Evans.

Prosecutors also argued that the woman was too intoxicated to give consent.

In her summing up of the evidence, Davies told the jury of seven men and five women that the issue of consent was key to the case, adding that drunken consent was still consent.

“Your decision must be made calmly, objectively and without emotion,” she said.

You are not here to judge the morals of any person in this case and this includes the complainant and the defendant.

Evans was seen crying and hugging partner Natasha Massey, who has been staunch in her support of his case, after the jury foreman read out the verdict.

Evans and Massey are still in a relationship. They plan to marry and have a nine-month-old son.

(Click here if video doesn’t play)

In a statement read out by his solicitor outside court, Evans said that he apologises to those affected by what happened.

“That incident did not involve a criminal offence and today I am overwhelmed with relief that the jury agreed,” he said.

Thanks go to to my friends and family, most noticeably my fianceé Natasha who chose, perhaps incredibly, to support me in my darkest hour. While my innocence has been established, I would like to wholeheartedly apologise to anybody who might have been affected by the events of the night in question.

After his release from prison, Evans returned to playing professional football in the third-tier of English football at Chesterfield FC.

Speaking after this afternoon’s verdict, Chesterfield’s chief executive Chris Turner said that the club were “naturally delighted”.

“We are naturally delighted with the outcome, especially for Ched, his family and friends. We can now all move forward and focus on football,” he said.

- With reporting by © – AFP 2016

Read: Ched Evans takes the stand at retrial, denies rape and claims he was being ‘childish’ >

Read: Ched Evans rape retrial: Alleged victim has no memory of being asked if Evans could ‘join in’ >

 

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