Foot­baller found not guilty af­ter rape re­trial

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORT -

CARDIFF, Wales (AP): A FORMER English Premier League player was found not guilty of rape yes­ter­day fol­low­ing a re­trial, end­ing a five-year case.

Ched Evans, a Wales in­ter­na­tional who has played for Manch­ester City and Sh­effield United, wept and hugged his fi­ancee af­ter the ver­dict was given at Cardiff Crown Court.

The 27-year-old Evans ad­mit­ted to hav­ing sex with a teenager in a ho­tel in north Wales in May 2011 but al­ways in­sisted it was con­sen­sual. He was con­victed of rape in April 2012 and re­leased from prison af­ter serv­ing half of his five-year sen­tence.

The rape con­vic­tion was over­turned in April fol­low­ing an ap­peal.

A jury of seven women and five men found Evans not guilty fol­low­ing three hours of de­lib­er­a­tions af­ter the eight-day trial.

Evans and his part­ner stood out­side court with sup­port­ers as his so­lic­i­tor read a state­ment on be­half of Evans.

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

“Thanks go, too, to my friends and fam­ily,” it added, “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.”

Evans plays for third-tier club Ch­ester­field, who signed him in June de­spite a pub­lic out­cry when he at­tempted to re­turn to pro­fes­sional foot­ball with other clubs while his ap­peal was be­ing heard.

... To­day, I am over­whelmed with re­lief that the jury agreed.

AP

Foot­ball player Ched Evans (right) and his part­ner, Natasha Massey, ar­riv­ing at Cardiff Crown Court yes­ter­day.

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