In 2012 Chedwyn “Ched” Evans should have been having the year of life, the former Manchester City & Welsh international footballer was in career best form having scored 35 goals in all competitions for his current club Sheffield Utd, he was drawing the attention of Premier League & Championship clubs for his ability on the pitch and the justice system, for an unfortunate series of events that happened one night of it
On the night of May 30th 2011 Evans & former Port Vale defender Clayton McDonald were out celebrating at Rhyl’s Zu Bar, in the north east of Wales following a match, instead is has become something that has come back to haunt everyone involved.
Evans & McDonald were charged with the rape of a 19 year old women after police argued that she did “not have the freedom or capacity to consent”.
They said Mr Evans had treated her with a “callous, self-centred indifference essentially indistinguishable from utter contempt”. A claim that both men have denied.
He has always denied having sex with the woman while she was too drunk to consent.
He insisted she had agreed to let him “join in” while she was having consensual sex with fellow footballer Clayton McDonald
On 20th April 2012, Evans was found guilty and sentenced to a maximum of 5 years in prison although he would be eligible for release after serving only half of that time, while McDonald was acquitted on all charges
While serving his sentence Evans worked as a painter dring his stay at Wymott Prison near Leyland, Lancashire as a means to supplement his diet.
After serving half of his prison sentence, Evans was eligible for release, and hence he was released on 17 October 2014. Following his release, the Criminal Cases Review Commission announced that they were fast-tracking a review of his conviction.
While awaiting a the outcome of a review into his conviction Evans attempted to continue his career first with former club Sheffield Utd.
In April 2014, Sheffield United Co-Chairman Kevin McCabe and new manager Nigel Clough met with Evans in HM Prison Wymott to discuss the possibility of Sheffield United re-signing Evans after his release from prison. Following speculation that Evans could rejoin his former club, a petition was signed by 150,000 people urging the club not to do so, which stated that it would be a “deep insult to the woman who was raped and to all women like her who have suffered at the hands of a rapist”.
In November 2014, following his release from prison, it was announced that Evans would resume training with Sheffield United after the Professional Footballers’ Association had requested that Sheffield United let Evans train at the club as they were his last club before his conviction. The decision was controversial, and caused television presenter Charlie Webster, businesswoman Lindsay Graham and musicians Dave Berry and Paul Heaton to resign as patrons of the club. Athlete Jessica Ennis-Hill stated that she would want her name removed from a stand at Bramall Lane if Evans were signed by the club.
The Football League stated that although they recognised the gravity of Evans’ crime, they valued the reintegration of reformed criminals and could not take any action against any club which would hire Evans.Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough said on 12 November that the club were “nowhere near” signing Evans, citing his 30 months out of the professional game and an important run of fixtures as reasons why a decision would not be taken immediately. DBL Logistics, Sheffield United’s sponsor on the back of their shirts, stated that they would end their sponsorship if Evans were signed by the club. John Holland Sales, who sponsor on the front of the shirts, declared that they would “re-evaluate” their relation to the club if he were signed. On 20 November, Sheffield United withdrew their offer to allow Evans to use their training facilities. Co-chairman Jim Phipps, however, attributed the decision to “mob-like behavior”, stating his belief that Evans had a right to return to his career having served his sentence.
After not being offered a contact at Sheffield Utd, Evans opens talks with League 1 side Oldham Athletic although due to public pressure, including a petition which had received 33,000 signatures within 24 hours Oldham did not follow up their interest.
His conviction was referred to the Court of Appeal following a 10-month investigation by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), which found new information not raised at the original trial.
In rape trials, defence lawyers are banned from cross-examining an alleged victim about their sexual behavior or history to protect them from humiliating treatment.
But there can be exceptional reasons to ditch that rule in the interests of a fair trial. The Court of Appeal said Mr Evans’s case was one of those very rare exceptions.
It said that two other men who had sex with the woman had described their encounters with her in highly specific terms that were virtually indistinguishable from Mr Evans’s own account of what had happened.
One of the encounters occurred days before the alleged rape – and the other in the days that followed.
On each occasion the woman had been drinking heavily and the sex occurred in a very specific way – including the words she used to encourage her partner.
Each time she woke up saying she had no memory of what had happened.
Lady Justice Hallett, one of the country’s top judges, said that these events were so similar to what Mr Evans had described that a jury had to hear about them before deciding whether the woman had been incapable of giving her consent.
A jury of seven women and five men took less than three hours to clear Mr Evans following a two-week trial.
There were gasps and cries in the public gallery when the verdict was read out, with members of Mr Evans’s group breaking down.
In a statement read out on Mr Evans’s behalf after the verdict, the footballer said:
“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 for ever. That incident did not involve the commission of a criminal offence and today I am overwhelmed with relief that the Jury agreed.
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, Manchester, for their tireless efforts upon my behalf.
Thanks go, too, to my friends and family; most notably my fiancée, 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.
Following yesterday’s decision at Cardiff crown court I want to stress that I absolutely disassociate myself from anyone who names on any forum the woman in this case. Or makes any offensive comments about her.
Everyone associated with the past 5 years now has the right to move on with their lives and I wish no ill will to anybody.
Ched Evans, Playing for new club Chesterfield Utd in the EFL League 1