Sheffield United player Ched fights to clear his name

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SHEFFIELD United footballer Ched Evans is to appeal his conviction for rape in a fight to clear his name.

Lawyers acting for the jailed 23-year-old striker, of Millhouse Green, near Penistone, said he ‘firmly maintains his innocence’ after been sentenced to five years in prison for the rape of a 19-year-old girl.

A jury found she was too drunk to consent to sex at a hotel in Rhyl, North Wales, last May. Evans’ co-accused, Port Vale defender Clayton McDonald, also 23, was found not guilty of the same charge.

A statement from Evans’ legal team at Brabners Chaffe Street LLP said: “Mr Evans firmly maintains his innocence in this matter and as such we confirm that Mr Evans will be appealing the decision.

“No further comment will be made while the appeal process is ongoing.”

United said it would ‘refrain’ from commenting further.

A massive online backlash followed Evans’ conviction at Caernarfon Crown Court on Friday and it was one of the most talked-about topics on Twitter.

The internet was also used to illegally name the victim - whose identity is protected for life by law - and North Wales Police are investigating.

United reserve team player Connor Brown has been suspended as the club investigates comments posted on his personal account on the social networking site.

He allegedly expressed his support for Evans and the comments, which were later deleted, also contained references to the rape victim’s character.

In a statement confirming the move, United added: “There will be no further comment from the club during the process of the investigation which it hopes to conclude swiftly.”

Appeals against crown court convictions must be made within 28 days of the sentencing.

If the application is refused the court can rule the time a defendant has already spent in prison does not count towards their sentence - lengthening the amount of time they spend behind bars.

The appeal court has a number of options before it.

They can then dismiss the appeal or allow it and acquit the appellant. Another option is to substitute the conviction for a lesser charge. Finally, they can order a retrial.

There is also a further right of appeal to the High Court.