Evans fights to clear name after conviction for rape

Sheffield United and Wales striker Ched Evans (centre) arrives at Caernafon Crown Court  where he will stand trial today accused of raping a woman at a hotel. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday April 11, 2012. See PA story COURTS Footballers. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
Sheffield United and Wales striker Ched Evans (centre) arrives at Caernafon Crown Court where he will stand trial today accused of raping a woman at a hotel. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday April 11, 2012. See PA story COURTS Footballers. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

SHEFFIELD United striker Ched Evans was this week fighting to overturn his conviction for rape.

Lawyers for the 23-year-old said he “firmly maintains his innocence” after been sentenced to five years in prison for the sexual assault of a 19-year-old girl in a hotel room.

A jury found she was too drunk to consent to sex at a hotel in Rhyl, North Wales, last May. Evans’ co-accused, Port Vale defender Clayton McDonald, also 23, was found not guilty of the same charge.

A statement from Evans’ legal team at Brabners Chaffe Street LLP said: “Mr Evans firmly maintains his innocence in this matter and as such we confirm that Mr Evans will be appealing the decision.

“No further comment will be made while the appeal process is ongoing.”

Sheffield United said they would “refrain” from commenting further.

Appeals against crown court convictions must be made within 28 days of the sentencing and can be based on new evidence or concerns over legal procedures.

Options include dismissing the appeal, allowing it and acquitting the appellant, substituting the conviction for a lesser charge and ordering a retrial. There is also a further right of appeal to the High Court.

The conviction at Caernarfon Crown Court of Evans, of Millhouse Green, Penistone, has prompted extensive comment on the social networking site, Twitter.

United reserve team player Connor Brown has been suspended as the club investigates comments he posted on his personal account. He allegedly expressed his support for Evans and the comments, which were later deleted, also contained references to the rape victim’s character.

The internet has also been used to illegally name the victim – whose identity is protected for life by law – and North Wales Police are investigating.

A spokesman said: “North Wales Police has confirmed that arrests will be made as part of its investigation following comments made on social media sites identifying the victim.

“The force is reminding people that the law gives rape victims and other victims of serious sexual offences anonymity for life and that if anyone publishes a victim’s identity they will be subject to investigation and possible criminal proceedings.”

A complaint was made by the charity, End Violence Against Women coalition.

Director Holly Dustin said: “Those who have named her have been reported to the police for committing a criminal offence.

“This raises serious questions about the adequacy of the criminal justice system to deal with offences that occur online and we are calling for an urgent review of laws and practices.

“We want to see football clubs take a strong stance against sexism in the sport.”