Footballer Evans acquitted of rape following retrial
Footballer Ched Evans has been found not guilty of rape following a two-week retrial.
The Wales international and Chesterfield striker, who fought a five-year battle to clear his name, wept and hugged his partner, Natasha Massey, following the verdict at Cardiff Crown Court.
Evans (27) had admitted having sex with the woman in a hotel in Rhyl, north Wales - cheating on his girlfriend in the process - but always insisted that it had been consensual.
He had maintained his innocence from the very outset, saying the woman had invited him to "join in" a 4am romp with a fellow footballer.
Defence counsel Judy Khan QC said Evans answered every single question during his police interviews and detectives would never have known about the sex session had it not been for the soccer star's honesty.
His legal team argued that the prosecution was "built around the myth" that the complainant was too drunk to agree to sex.
Ched Evans's fiancée offered a key witness in his rape trial a £50,000 "bribe" for evidence to clear him, it can now be revealed.
Natasha Massey (27) sent a Facebook message about the huge cash reward to hotel receptionist Gavin Burrough - and signed it with a kiss.
Prosecuting barrister Simon Medland QC said the "subtle and repeated" five-figure sum was "akin to a bribe".
The jury at Evans' retrial was not told about the Facebook messages after the judge had ruled them inadmissible.
The messages sent by mother-of-one Massey were both signed off with a "x" and allegedly put "pressure" on Mr Burrough to change his evidence.
The first message sent on May 6, 2012 - two weeks after Evans had been jailed - said: "We are appealing for new information. There is a £50,000 reward for any new evidence. Do you know anything that could help Ched? X"
The second post - sent the following morning - read: "Ok. I see you have chosen to ignore me. I understand you want to put it all behind you.
"If you can deal with the fact that Ched is innocent and he's spending the next 17 months in prison and you can just sit back and let it happen, so be it. I'm literally begging. If you know anything, please help me x.'"
But Mr Burrough never changed his account of what happened in the Premier Inn in Rhuddlan, north Wales.
Mr Medland said the messages were sent so that Mr Burrough "could consider his position as a witness".
But Evans's legal team argued that the messages showed nothing more than "a desperate girlfriend trying to help her boyfriend who she believed was innocent".
Beauty therapist Massey has stood by her boyfriend ever since he was first accused of rape in 2011 and the couple had a baby son together in January of this year.
The couple have been together since 2009 and Massey has previously said Evans "wasn't capable" of committing such a crime.
In a TV interview after his conviction, she said: "As soon as I found out that he'd been questioned over rape, my instinct was kind of protective of Ched and I thought I have to stand by him.
Her business tycoon father Karl (52) helped launch the website Chedevans.com following his conviction and funded Evans' legal challenge.
The website, which proclaimed that Evans was "wrongly convicted of rape on 20th April 2012" boasted of the £50,000 available for new information that could help his appeal.
Two new witnesses who gave evidence at Evans's retrial denied they were influenced by the £50,000 reward.
The crucial new evidence clearing Ched Evans at his retrial came from two men who told of their own sexual experiences with the waitress.
The two former lovers both had sex with her - one two days before the alleged rape and the other just two weeks after.
Both told how the 19-year-old woman took the lead and asked them to go "harder" on her during sex.