A TEENAGER convicted of a naming the rape victim of Sheffield United footballer Ched Evans on Twitter today refused to apologise to her and said paying compensation was “the last thing” she wanted to do.
The victim’s name was circulated on Twitter and Facebook after Evans was convicted of raping her at Caernarfon Crown Court in April.
Last month Evans’s cousin, Gemma Thomas, and eight other defendants were each ordered to pay the victim £624 in one of the first cases of its kind, after they admitted revealing her identity on social networks.
Thomas, 18, took to Twitter days after her cousin’s conviction naming the victim and calling her a “money-grabbing slut” and accusing her of “ruining lives”.
Speaking on the Victoria Derbyshire show on BBC Radio 5 Live this morning, Thomas said she regretted her actions but continued to stand by her cousin, who she said was innocent, and refused to offer a direct apology to the victim.
Thomas said when she was initially told about the punishment, she thought it was a fine.
When her solicitor explained it was compensation she said she “went silent for an hour” and said she “couldn’t believe it”.
Asked why, Thomas responded: “Because it’s the last thing I wanted to do, pay her compensation.”
“I understand it’s against the law and I wouldn’t have minded having a big fine because I understand what I did was wrong, but it’s the fact that it’s compensation and it’s just ... I don’t know, it’s hard thinking that I have got to pay compensation, knowing that I know my cousin is innocent.”
Thomas, from Rhyl, North Wales, said the fact that a jury convicted Evans of rape did not change her view and said she had been writing him letters.
She said: “Ched’s my cousin and I’m thinking about how he’s feeling and how he’s feeling being in prison, knowing that he’s innocent.”
Derbyshire said: “In the eyes of the law, he’s a rapist.”
Thomas responded: “Not in my eyes.”
Thomas said she did regret what she had done and the fact that it might stop other victims of rape coming forward.
She accepted what she did was wrong and apologised for her actions, but when asked if she would offer an apology directly to Evans’s victim, said: “I don’t know. No.”
Thomas and the other defendants claimed that they were not aware that naming a rape victim was a criminal offence.
The law gives the victims and alleged victims of rape and other sexual offences lifelong anonymity.
The defendants were charged with publishing material likely to lead members of the public to identify the complainant in a rape case, contrary to the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992.
Last month, at Prestatyn Magistrates’ Court, District Judge Andrew Shaw said each of the defendants 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.
District Judge Shaw said the defendants who were related or who were friends of Evans posted the comments with “deliberate malice”.
He said: “Your actions have re-victimised this woman again.”
Nita Dowell, prosecuting, told the court that following Evans’s conviction, the case attracted a huge amount of interest nationally and internationally and there were 6,000 hits about it on Twitter alone.
Miss Dowell said the victim was subjected to abuse and North Wales Police received numerous complaints from members of the public and from groups such as Rape Crisis.
The defendants in the case were: 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, of South Drive, Rhyl, all North Wales.
Also convicted were: Paul Devine, 26, of Buchanan Road; Daniel Cardwell, 25, of White Lane, Chapeltown; and Shaun Littler, 22, of Ashbourne Road, Handsworth, all Sheffield.
The defendants all pleaded guilty to the charge along with Thomas.
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.
Last month Evans lost a challenge against his conviction for rape.
The striker had his case rejected by three judges at the Court of Appeal in London.