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Footballer Evans wins appeal over rape conviction but faces a retrial

By Cathy Gordon

Published 22/04/2016

Ched Evans leaves Court of Appeal in London with partner Natasha Massey yesterday. Photo: John Aston/PA Wire
Ched Evans leaves Court of Appeal in London with partner Natasha Massey yesterday. Photo: John Aston/PA Wire

Footballer Ched Evans has won his appeal against his conviction for raping a 19-year-old woman.

But Court of Appeal judges in London have ordered that he must face a fresh trial.

The decision was announced on Thursday following appeal proceedings last month.

The former Sheffield United striker and Welsh international was present in the packed London courtroom with girlfriend Natasha Massey by his side to hear the result of his conviction challenge.

Lady Justice Hallett, Mr Justice Flaux and Sir David Maddison had heard submissions over two days from Kieran Vaughan QC, for Evans, and from Eleanor Laws QC, for the Crown.

Evans, now 27, was convicted in April 2012. He was found guilty at Caernarfon Crown Court of raping the woman at a hotel in Rhyl, North Wales.

His conviction was referred to the Court of Appeal for review by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), which investigates possible miscarriages of justice.

Lady Justice Hallett, announcing the court's decision, said the judges had heard "fresh evidence" during the appeal hearing on March 22 and 23.

She said: "In summary, we have concluded that we must allow the appeal and that it is in the interests of justice to order a retrial." The court quashed Evans' conviction and declared: "The appellant will be retried on the allegation of rape."

After the ruling, Evans left the Royal Courts of Justice hand in hand with his girlfriend to catch a taxi.

In a statement read by a lawyer outside the court's front entrance, Evans was described as being "extremely grateful" to the appeal judges for quashing his conviction.

It was made clear that no further statement would be made "as it is acknowledged by Mr Evans that the legal process has not reached a final conclusion".

Earlier, Lady Justice Hallett read out a statement containing the court's conclusions, which she said could be reported and broadcast "in full".

She said: "On April 20, 2012, a jury at the Caernarfon Crown Court convicted the appellant of an offence of rape. He was sentenced to five years' imprisonment and he has since been released on licence.

"He appealed to this court against conviction on a reference by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (the CCRC) ... on the basis that relevant and admissible evidence has come to light, that was not available at trial, and that undermines the safety of his conviction."

The judge then announced that the appeal was being allowed and a retrial ordered.

She emphasised that "nothing can be reported that might prejudice the fairness" of the retrial.

The judge further stated: "The identity of the complainant in this case must not be reported."

She said a fresh indictment "must be served" and "the appellant must be re-arraigned on that fresh indictment within two months of today".

Lady Justice Hallett added: "The appellant will be on unconditional bail as far as this court is concerned."

On media reporting of the case, Lady Justice Hallett said that apart from the contents of her statement, "nothing more about the appeal proceedings may be reported until the retrial is concluded".

She said: "Reporting restrictions under Section 4 (2) of the Contempt of Court Act apply to the appeal proceedings and will continue until the conclusion of the retrial, to avoid any prejudice to the retrial".

The Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992 "also applies so that the complainant is entitled to life-long anonymity".

Belfast Telegraph

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