Wales footballer Ched Evans found not guilty of rape


Footballer Ched Evans has been found not guilty of rape following a two week retrial.

The Wales international and Chesterfield striker, who fought a five year battle to clear his name, wept and hugged his partner Natasha Massey following the verdict at Cardiff Crown Court.

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, 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.

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.

Mr Evans bowed his head as the jury foreman returned the verdict of not guilty.

Claps could be heard from the public gallery following the acquittal.

Mrs Justice Nicola Davies told Mr Evans: "Mr Evans you are discharged and you can leave the dock."

It took the jury three hours to reach their not guilty verdict.

Mr Evans immediately hugged Ms Massey, the mother of his nine-month-old son and they both wept after the jury of seven men and five women cleared the footballer.

Giving his evidence-in-chief at the retrial at Cardiff Crown Court, the 13-cap Wales international told the jury he had consensual sex with the woman.

He arrived at the £92 hotel room after friend Clayton McDonald, also a footballer, sent him a message to say he had "got a bird".

"I was being juvenile, I was being childish," Mr Evans said. "I didn't know for sure what would be happening in the room.

"I thought they might be having sex. They were in fact having sex.

"When I walked in, the door slammed behind me and they both looked at me.

"Clay looked at her and said 'can my mate join in?' She looked at me and said 'yes'."

Mr Evans said Mr McDonald - who he had engaged in a threesome with in 2009 after a game of strip poker - and the woman were both naked when he entered the room.

His brother, Ryan Roberts, and friend Jack Higgins had also gone to the hotel and were watching through the window of the room.

The court heard Mr Evans, who was 22 at the time of the incident, undressed and had sex with the woman after Mr McDonald had stopped.

"She was making noises like she was enjoying herself," Mr Evans said.

He claimed the woman did not seem too drunk to consent to sex and had asked him to "f*** me harder" on more than one occasion

Mr Evans stopped having sex with the woman after Mr McDonald dressed and left the room.

When asked why he did not continue, Mr Evans said that being alone with the woman made him realise he was cheating on his girlfriend.

"When I pulled away she grabbed the corner of the quilt over herself, looked over at me and huffed," he said.

"I started to get dressed."

After leaving the hotel through a fire exit door, he met up with Mr McDonald and the pair walked to Mr Evans' family home nearby.

They were arrested in Cheshire on May 31. Mr McDonald was acquitted of raping the woman during the earlier trial.

The jury heard Mr Evans and Mr McDonald had been on a night out in Rhyl on May 29, drinking whisky and coke throughout the evening.

At 2.30am the following morning, the pair went to The Godfather, a kebab shop, and ate food there.

CCTV images show the alleged victim falling over inside the kebab shop, with Mr Evans pointing and walking past her.

Later, Mr McDonald and the woman took a taxi to the Premier Inn, which had been booked by Mr Evans.

During cross-examination, Mr Evans confirmed he had had unprotected sex with the woman and did not know her name at that time.

"Looking back, I am ashamed. On reflection I should not have behaved that way," he told the jury.

He said he had left the hotel room without saying goodbye to the woman, kissing her or thanking her.

Judy Khan QC, defending Mr Evans, asked him: "Was there any doubt in your mind that she was consenting?"

Evans replied: "None, no."