Former Sheffield United footballer Ched Evans has won an appeal against his conviction for rape and faces a retrial.
Evans, now 27, who spent two-and-a-half years in jail after he was convicted in 2012 of raping a 19-year-old in a hotel in north Wales, said he was “extremely grateful” for the ruling.
The court of appeal on Thursday quashed the conviction after fresh evidence emerged. Details can not be reported for legal reasons.
Appearing alone, Lady Justice Hallett told the court: “On 22 and 23 March we heard argument and we heard the fresh evidence.”
She went on: “In summary, we have concluded that we must allow the appeal and that it is in the interests of justice to order a re-trial.”
Evans made no reaction when the ruling was made but was seen hugging relatives in the corridor outside the courtroom.
Ahead of the ruling, the prosecution had said it would seek an immediate retrial if Evans won his appeal.
Hallett said Evans must be retried on an allegation of rape and be re-arraigned on a fresh indictment within two months.
The former Sheffield United striker and Welsh international was present at the London court with his girlfriend, Natasha Massey.
Sitting at the court of appeal in central London, Hallett, Mr Justice Flaux and Sir David Maddison heard submissions over two days in March from Kieran Vaughan QC, for Evans, and from Eleanor Laws QC, for the crown.
Outside court after the ruling, Evans’s solicitor, Shaun Draycott, said: “Ched Evans is extremely grateful that the court of appeal has ruled that his conviction for rape was unsafe and should be quashed.”
He thanked his lawyers, family, friends and partner on behalf of his client. “No further statement will be made as it is acknowledged by Mr Evans that the legal process has not reached a final conclusion and there will be further hearings of significance on dates to be fixed in due course.”
Evans, who has 22 caps for his country, was charged with rape on 26 July 2011. He is alleged to have raped a 19-year-old girl at the Premier Inn in Rhyl on 31 May 2011.
The St Asaph-born striker made his debut for Wales in May 2008 and scored the winner in a 1-0 friendly win over Iceland.
He rose through the trainee ranks at Premier League side Manchester City before spending time on loan at Norwich City.
After returning to Man City at the Etihad Stadium, he was sold to then Championship-side Sheffield United in 2009 for £3m. He is currently not attached to a club.