Footballer Ched Evans has had his rape conviction quashed by the Court of Appeal after new evidence came to light – but the former Manchester City, Sheffield United and Wales striker now faces a retrial.
In 2012 the 27-year-old was convicted of raping a 19-year-old woman at a hotel near Rhyl and sentenced to five years in jail.
He maintained his innocence and although a first appeal failed, his case was fast-tracked by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), which investigates possible miscarriages of justice, following his release from prison in 2014.
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Late last year the case was referred to the Court of Appeal, which has now overturned his conviction after hearing fresh evidence that was not put before the jury at the original trial. Details of the new evidence cannot be reported for legal reasons.
Announcing the decision Lady Justice Hallett told the court: "We have concluded that we must allow the appeal and that it is in the interests of justice to order a retrial."
Evans, who admits having sex with the woman but insists it was consensual, was in court with around 20 friends and family, including his girlfriend Natasha Massey to hear the verdict.
"Evans made no reaction when the ruling was made but was seen hugging relatives in the corridor outside the courtroom," reports The Guardian.
In a statement he thanked his girlfriend for her "unconditional love, belief and support".
"We all welcome today's decision by the Court of Appeal... however, there are no winners and no celebration," he added.
Evans has not played professional football since his court case and his attempts to find a new club after he was released from prison have caused controversy. His former club Sheffield United were criticised for allowing him to train with them following his release, while Oldham Athletic and Grimsby Town considered offering the striker a new contract, but backed down in the face of public opposition.
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