Sheffield United and Wales striker Ched Evans found guilty of rape
An international footballer is starting a five-year jail sentence for raping a teenager who was too drunk to consent to sex with him.
The Wales and Sheffield United striker Ched Evans was found guilty of raping the 19-year-old following a night out at a seaside town. His friend and fellow professional footballer, Clayton McDonald, was cleared of the same charge.
The court heard that the men, both 23, admitted they had sex with the young woman but the prosecution argued that she was too drunk to consent.
A jury at Caernarfon crown court cleared McDonald, a Port Vale player, after almost five hours of deliberations. His family and friends in the public gallery reacted by shouting: "Yes, yes." Evans wept as the jury then returned the guilty verdict against him.
Jailing Evans, Judge Merfyn Hughes QC said: "The complainant was 19 years of age and was extremely intoxicated. As the jury have found, she was in no condition to have sexual intercourse. You must have realised that."
He told Evans that he might have been used to receiving attention from women owing to his success but this case was "very different". The judge added: "You have thrown away the successful career in which you were involved."
Nita Dowell, senior crown prosecutor in Wales, said: "Ched Evans took advantage of a vulnerable young woman who was in no fit state to consent to sexual activity.
"It is a myth that being vulnerable through alcohol consumption means that a victim is somehow responsible for being raped. The law is clear: being vulnerable through drink or drugs does not imply consent."
Detective Chief Inspector Steve Williams, the senior investigating officer in the case, said: "No one is above the law."
The attack happened at a Premier Inn near Rhyl, north Wales, after the footballers had been on a night out last May. The prosecution said McDonald took the woman back to the hotel where they had sex and were later joined by Evans, who also had intercourse with the teenager.
During his evidence Evans, originally from St Asaph in north Wales, told the jury he had 13 caps for Wales and had scored 35 goals for Sheffield United, currently second in League One, this season. At the time of the alleged attack he had been seeing his girlfriend for around 18 months and was still with her.
Evans denied forcing the woman into having sex and insisted she was conscious. Asked what condition she was in, he said: "She had had a drink but she was not very drunk." He said she was "in control".
But in a police interview the woman said she had no memories of how she got to the hotel. She had drunk wine, four double vodkas and a shot of sambuca.
CCTV footage showed her falling over in a kebab shop. A receptionist at the hotel described the woman as "extremely drunk" and said she was "stumbling" and "slurring".
A statement on behalf of Evans released via Sheffield United's website following the verdict said: "Ched Evans is shocked and extremely disappointed with the decision reached today by the jury to convict him of the charge brought against him. Mr Evans firmly maintains his innocence in this matter and is being advised regarding an appeal of the decision."
Sheffield United said the club recognised "the seriousness of these events and as such wishes to respond in a responsible way when it has taken sufficient time to consider the matter fully".
McDonald's legal team said in a statement published on Port Vale FC's website: "Clayton McDonald has maintained his innocence from the start and is relieved at his verdict. However, he is very upset and disappointed regarding the verdict given to his lifelong friend, Ched Evans, whom he will continue to support in any way possible."
The footballers met when they were 10 years old and shared digs while they attended the Manchester City youth academy.Resources: Sheffield United and Wales striker Ched Evans found guilty of rape
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