Wales footballer Ched Evans cleared of rape after five-year fight

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Wales international footballer Ched Evans has been found not guilty of rape following a two-week retrial at Cardiff Crown Court.

The Chesterfield striker, who fought a five-year battle to clear his name, wept and hugged his partner Natasha Massey following the verdict.

Evans arriving at Cardiff Crown Court
Evans arriving at Cardiff Crown Court (Ben Birchall/PA)

Evans, 27, had admitted to having sex with the teenager in a hotel in Rhyl, north Wales, and cheating on his girlfriend in the process in the early hours of May 30 2011, but always insisted it had been consensual.

He had maintained his innocence from the very outset - saying the woman had invited him to "join in" a 4am romp with a fellow footballer, Clayton McDonald.

Defence counsel Judy Khan QC said Evans answered every single question during his police interviews and detectives would never have known about the sex session had it not been for the soccer star's honesty.

Premier Inn room
The inside of Room 14 at the Premier Inn, near Rhyl, where Evans cheated on partner Natasha Massey in 2011 (North Wales Police/Crown Prosecution Service/PA)

Prosecutors had alleged the complainant was too drunk to consent to sex and awoke hours later confused and alone in the room. During his retrial, Evans told Cardiff Crown Court the woman was no drunker than him or McDonald.

The ruling comes as part of a retrial after he served half of a five-year sentence following his conviction at Caernarfon Crown Court on April 20 2012.

After the striker lost an earlier appeal four years ago his family employed private investigators to gather new evidence.

Evans and Massey
Evans had been in a relationship with Massey for almost three years when he was accused of rape (Ben Birchall/PA)

Evans and Massey now have a nine-month-old son and Massey visited him every week in prison following his conviction and sentence in 2012. When asked about their future plans, Evans told Cardiff Crown Court: "More children and to get married."

Evans signed a year-long contract with League One club Chesterfield earlier this year, with the option of another 12-months. He has scored four goals in eight games this season for Chesterfield but, in the lead up to his retrial, was ruled out of playing due to a foot injury.

Evans playing for Chesterfield
Evans, here playing for current club Chesterfield (Rui Vieira/PA)