Ched Evans rape verdict: Drunk rape victims 'not responsible'

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Rapist: Sheffield United striker Ched Evans has been sentenced to five years

Prosecutors say it is a "myth" that rape victims are "somehow responsible" for being attacked, following the conviction of footballer Ched Evans.

The Wales and Sheffield United striker was jailed for five years on Friday.

Nita Dowell, senior prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in Wales, said Evans, 23, "took advantage" of his victim "who was in no fit state" to consent to sex.

She wants rape victims to feel their complaint will be taken seriously.

Ms Dowell said: "He did so knowingly and with a total disregard for her physical or emotional wellbeing.

"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."

Ms Dowell said rape was an "extremely damaging offence" but often misunderstood and difficult to prosecute.

She said the CPS, police and other agencies were working to combat and dispel the "myths and stereotypes" that surround the issue.

"We want victims to feel that they can report an offence to the police, confident in the knowledge that their complaint will be taken seriously and they will be treated with respect," she said.

'Sad day'

Evans and co-defendant Port Vale defender Clayton McDonald, also 23, had denied rape at a Premier Inn near Rhyl, Denbighshire.

The men admitted having sex with the woman - who was 19 at the time - on 30 May 2011, but said it had been consensual.

A jury at Caernarfon Crown Court acquitted Mr McDonald, but convicted Evans.

David Fish QC, defending Evans, said it was a "sad day" for his client.

"He is aged 23 and has, until now, had a promising career to which he has devoted his whole life since his teens," he said.

"That career has now been lost."

Evans' lawyer added: "Ched Evans is shocked and extremely disappointed with the decision reached today by the jury at Caernarfon Crown Court 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."

'Resilience and strength'

Evans' club Sheffield United released a statement after the verdict saying it 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".

A spokesman for the Football Association of Wales said it was aware of the verdict and the "seriousness of the situation" but would not be making any further comment.

Mr McDonald's legal team said in a statement that he had maintained his innocence throughout and was "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," it added.

After the verdict, Det Ch Insp Steve Williams, from North Wales Police, said no-one was "above the law" and paid tribute to the victim who had shown a "great deal of resilience and strength in very difficult circumstances".

"I sincerely hope that the guilty verdict will provide some closure on this horrendous ordeal for the victim and that she will be able to rebuild her life which was shattered by the events of May 30 2011," he said.

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The court heard the defendants had known each other since they were aged 10