We didn’t know it was a crime, say nine who named Ched Evans rape victim
NINE people today pleaded guilty to revealing online the identity of a woman raped by former Sheffield United footballer Ched Evans.
The victim’s name was circulated on social network sites, including Twitter and Facebook, following Evans’s conviction at Caernarfon Crown Court in April.
Some of the defendants also launched abuse at the victim, calling her names like “money grabbing whore” and “poor little victim”.
They all claimed that they were not aware that naming her was a criminal offence.
The law gives the victims and alleged victims of rape and other sexual offences lifelong anonymity.
The defendants appeared at Prestatyn Magistrates’ Court charged with publishing material likely lead members of the public to identify the complainant in a rape case, contrary to the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act, 1992.
The defendants are: Benjamin Davies, 27, of Elwy Drive, Rhyl, Michael Ashton, 21, of Gwelfor Terrace, Llanddulas, Dominic Green, 23, of Oakwood Road, Rhyl, Craig MacDonald, 26, of Greenacres Caravan Park, Prestatyn, Holly Price, 25, of Derwent Close, Prestatyn, and Gemma Thomas, 18, of South Drive, Rhyl, all North Wales.
Paul Devine, 26, of Buchanan Road, Daniel Cardwell, 25, of White Lane, Chapeltown, and Shaun Littler, 22, of Ashbourne Road, Handsworth, all Sheffield, also pleaded guilty.
Former Sheffield United and Wales striker Evans was found guilty of raping a 19-year-old woman in a Rhyl hotel room.
Evans admitted having sex with her, but the woman told the jury she had no memory of the incident - and the prosecution said she was too drunk to consent to sexual intercourse.
He is due to appeal against the conviction at the Court of Appeal tomorrow.
Nita Dowell, prosecuting, told the court that following Evans’ conviction the case attracted a huge amount of interest nationally and internationally and that there were 6,000 hits about it on Twitter alone.
Miss Dowell said the victim was subjected to abuse and that North Wales Police received numerous complaints from members of the public and from groups such as Rape Crisis.
She said the first defendant to be identified was biology teacher Holly Price.
The court heard she re-tweeted a comment which named the victim and said: “money grabbing slut. poor little victim. WTF?”
The court heard that Price told police that she had been an “idiot” and wanted to apologise to the victim.
Green named the victim on his Facebook page.
The court was told he accepted that it was an “act of utter stupidity” and that he did not realise it was in essence a form of publication.
Thomas, who is Ched Evans’ first cousin, named the victim on her Twitter account and called her a “money grabbing slut” and “dirty slapper”.
Davies also named the victim on Twitter and called her a “money grabbing slag”. He said he was drunk at the time he posted the tweet.
Ashton named the victim and said she “made him sick” as well as other abuse in which he accused the victim of “crying rape”.
Cardwell, a Sheffield Untied fan, again named the victim and called her a “f****** whore and a slag.”
He also said he was drunk and that he did not realise it was illegal. He later deleted the tweet.
Devine posted a tweet which Miss Dowell said was of “particular concern”.
The tweet read: “She is to blame for her own downfall. Lets find her address.”
The court heard that Devine was angry as Sheffield United had just lost to MK Dons.
The court heard he wanted to apologise to the victim as it was never his intention to cause her harm.
Littler also used his tweet to accuse the victim of “crying rape”.
He later told police that was “devastated” that Sheffield United had lost Evans as a result of the trial, as he was the team’s best player.
MacDonald also called the victim a “money grabbing slut”.
He later deleted the tweet and said he was sorry for his actions.
District Judge Andrew Shaw ordered the defendants to pay the victim compensation of £624 each.
The court was told that a fine was the maximum penalty this charge could attract.
Mr Shaw said rape was one of the only crimes punishable by a maximum sentence of life.
He said: “It’s a crime against women which subjects them to the most intimate personal violation.”
He said each of the defendants had identified the victim and others had added abuse.
“You did so without proper knowledge of the facts and without any heed of the feelings of the victim, “ he said.
Mr Shaw said that the defendants who were related or were friends of Evans had posted the comments with “deliberate malice”.
He added: “Your actions have re-victimised this woman again.”
Alexandra Hewitt, 24, of Cherry Dale Road, Broughton, North Wales, pleaded not guilty to the charge.
She was granted bail and will appear back at the court for trial on January 21.
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Saturday 18 May 2013
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