Ched Evans jury told to reach verdict '˜without emotion'

Jurors in the retrial of Chesterfield striker Ched Evans have been told they must not judge the morals of anyone connected in the case - and should make their decision without emotion.

Thursday, 13th October 2016, 4:43 pm
Updated Tuesday, 25th October 2016, 7:52 pm
Ched Evans. Pic: PA

The footballer is accused of raping a woman in a hotel in Rhyl in 2011, when he played for Sheffield United.

Evans, 27, was originally found guilty following a trial four years ago, but the conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal and a retrial ordered.

Over the past fortnight, jurors at Cardiff Crown Court have heard evidence from the complainant, the former Manchester City player as well as several other witnesses in the case.

The prosecution say that the alleged victim was “stumbling” drunk and had no memory of being taken back to a Premier Inn before having sex with Evans and one of his friends.

It is also the Crown’s case that the defendant “surreptitiously” left the hotel via a fire exit before the woman woke up naked, alone and confused.

The defendant, who denies rape, insists the sex was consensual and she had looked at him and asked for oral sex after he walked into a hotel room.

And in his evidence, the soccer star - who now plays for League One side Chesterfield - said complainant was no more drunk than him and she was capable of making decisions and getting into different positions.

On the seventh day of the case, trial judge Mrs Justice Nicola Davies gave a series of legal directions to jury ahead of closing speeches from the Crown and defence.

She told jurors they would have to decide two issues in the case. “Are you sure that the complainant did not consent to have sex with the defendant,” she said.

“And two: Are you sure that the defendant did not reasonably believe that the complainant was consenting.

“Your decision must be made calmly, objectively and without emotion.

“You are not here to judge the morals of any person in this case and this includes the complainant and the defendant.”

Prosecuting counsel Simon Medland QC began his closing speech by saying that from the very moment the complainant had woken up in Room 14 on May 30, she was “confused and disorientated”.

He said: “She phoned her mum at about 11.30am crying and asking to picked up. She said ‘I haven’t got a clue what happened last night’.”

Mr Medland said the complainant had also been consistent in her account of saying that she had “no idea at all what happened”.

And the Crown’s QC reminded the jury that the defendant had unprotected sex with a woman barely known to him, did not speak to her during sex and then left via a fire door.

Mr Medland added: “He then walked........(back home) notwithstanding the damage to his ligaments in his leg.”

The prosecution also point to CCTV cameras showing the complainant “staggering” in Rhyl High Street after leaving nightclub Zu Bar, before going to kebab shop The Godfather.

Mr Medland said the footage showed that the complainant was so drunk she fell over before leaving takeaway and then getting into a taxi with one of the defendant’s friends Clayton McDonald.

Mr McDonald later texted Evans saying “I’ve got a bird”, before he and the woman went to the Premier Inn.

Evans, who had paid for a room for Mr McDonald ahead of their “lads night out”, later arrived at the hotel via taxi before getting a key from reception.

Mr Medland said: “We suggest this defendant went back to the hotel and blagged his way into the room because he wanted to have sex with ‘the bird’ Mr McDonald had got.

“This defendant was quite sober enough to think clearly and comparison to the complainant he was fairly sober.

“His case has been built upon the fact that he has committed no crime. So why take the steps that he did to lie his way into the hotel and then scuttle off through the fire door?”

The Crown’s QC said it was also significant that the defendant had entered the darkened hotel room before gesturing to his 18-year-old brother, who was watching outside a window with a friend, to keep quiet.

Mr Medland reminded the jury that Mr McDonald had previously been found not guilty of raping the woman at previous trial.

He added: “The central question in this trial is whether the complainant consented to sex with Ched Evans and whether he reasonably believed that.

“Even if the complainant consented to having sex with Mr McDonald....that does not mean she consented to having sex with Ched Evans as well.

“We submit that there can be little doubt the complainant did not have the freedom or the capacity to consent to sex with Ched Evans.

“In the course of his evidence, he said he would never hurt a girl. But we suggest that the defendant showed the complainant a callous and self-centred indifference, essentially indistinguishable from utter contempt.

“This defendant could not have cared less whether she wanted sex with him or not.

“This wealthy young footballer felt entitled to have her and did so regardless of what she would have wanted.

“In doing so, we submit this was rape and not consensual sex.” Defence counsel Judy Khan QC began her closing address by reminding the jury of the judge’s earlier comments to approach the evidence “dispassionately”.

She said: “We suggest to you that the prosecution case is built around a myth.

“It has been persistent, spanning five years, but it is utterly unrealistic when you view it against the rest of the evidence in this case.

“The evidence shows that despite her apparent memory blackout, the complainant was capable of making rational decisions.

“Drunken consent is nevertheless consent.

“While disinhibited through drink, she did consent to sex - first with Clayton McDonald and then with Ched Evans.

“Lack of memory does not equal lack of consent.”

Ms Khan also reminded the jury that the alleged victim had sent a “coherent” and correctly spelt text message to a friend at 2.54am on the morning in question.

She said the CCTV in The Godfather takeaway showed the complainant at the “height of her intoxication”, yet the woman was still making “rational decisions” - such as speaking to other people and walking around.

And while the defence accepted the woman had fallen over while in the busy takeaway - as opposed to being pushed over - it was because of “impossibly high” platform shoes and not drunkenness.

Ms Khan said that after leaving The Godfather, the woman managed to flag down a taxi and comply with the driver’s request to sit in the front - because she was eating a pizza.

She added: “How she presented in The Godfather is not necessarily any indication of what she was like in the hotel room.”

And in contrast to the prosecution’s assertion that the complainant was so drunk she did not know what she was doing, Ms Khan said the woman had managed to bend down and pick up a pizza box from outside the Premier Inn.

“She was moving around rationally, speaking and clearly making her own decisions,” added Ms Khan.

The defence also say it was significant that hotel receptionist Gavin Burrough described the woman and Mr McDonald looking like any “normal couple”.

And Evans’ legal team said that while Mr Burrough heard “sex noises” coming from Room 14 he did not appear concerned or intervene.

“He did not even knock on the door,” added Ms Khan.

The defence counsel said her client had been completely truthful with police in interview and answered every single question.

She also said the only evidence of there being sex between the former Norwich player and the woman had come from Evans himself.

The defence barrister said: “Why would he volunteer that information unless he wanted to help the police? He was determined he would tell them the truth.

“The prosecution tried to make everything this defendant did and said seem as sinister as possible. To the jaundiced eye, everything is yellow.” Ms Khan argued the complainant had been “caught up in a moment” while “disinhibited through drink” and had also “directed” the sex which took place.

She added: “Whatever the morality, people have casual sex. Sometimes when names aren’t known. Sometimes when other people are present. We all live in the real world.

“It wasn’t particularly moral behaviour - he cheated on his girlfriend that night - but none of that makes him a rapist.

“The fundamental is that he was not raping her.”

The trial continues.