You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

UK footballer Ched Evans cleared of rape

Press AssociationPress Association 14/10/2016

Wales international footballer Ched Evans says he is "overwhelmed with relief" after being acquitted of rape following a retrial.

The Chesterfield striker, 27, was originally convicted of raping a 19-year-old woman in a Premier Inn near Rhyl, North Wales, in May 2011.

He served half of a five-year prison sentence before being released but there was a public outcry when he attempted to return to professional football.

Evans joined League One club Chesterfield FC after the Court of Appeal quashed his conviction and ordered a retrial earlier this year.

A jury of seven women and five men on Friday found Evans not guilty following three hours of deliberations after the eight-day trial at Cardiff Crown Court.

Evans wept and hugged his fiancee Natasha Massey, who has stood by him throughout his ordeal, as he left the dock in court room five.

The couple stood together with supporters as Evans's solicitor Shaun Draycott read a statement outside court.

"In the early hours of 30th May 2011 an incident occurred in North Wales that was to change my life and the lives of others forever," the statement said.

"I would like to thank my legal team, Judy Khan QC and David Emanuel of Garden Court Chambers London and Shaun Draycott of Draycott Browne Solicitors 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."

Evans had admitted to having sex with the teenager in the hotel in Rhyl 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.

His legal team 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.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon