FORMER Sheffield United football star Ched Evans has lost a challenge against his five-year conviction for rape.
The 23-year-old striker, who had previously played for Manchester City and represented Wales, had his case rejected by three judges at the Court of Appeal in London.
Evans was jailed for five years in April for raping a 19-year-old woman in a hotel room.
His lawyers have said he maintains his innocence and believes “a comprehensive and objective analysis of the case will ultimately lead to his conviction being overturned”.
However yesterday’s challenge was refused by the Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge, sitting with Mr Justice Mitting and Mr Justice Griffith Williams.
Lord Judge, rejecting the challenge by Evans, said: “We can see no possible basis which would justify us interfering with the verdict of the jury, which heard all the evidence and reflected on it after careful summing up by the judge.”
The judges also threw out a bid by Evans to have his sentence reduced.
Evans denied the offence but was found guilty by a jury at Caernarfon Crown Court of raping the woman at a hotel in North Wales in May last year.
He admitted having sex with her but his victim told the jury she had no memory of the incident.
The prosecution said the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was too drunk to consent to sexual intercourse.
Port Vale defender Clayton McDonald, 23, who also admitted having sex with the victim, was found not guilty of the same charge.
Earlier this week, nine people pleaded guilty to revealing online the identity of the woman raped by Evans.
The victim’s name was circulated on social network sites, including Twitter and Facebook, following Evans’s conviction.
Some of the defendants also launched abuse at the victim, calling her “money grabbing” and a “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 to lead members of the public to identify the complainant in a rape case, contrary to the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act, 1992.
The incident happened at a Premier Inn near Rhyl after Evans had been on a night out in the seaside town on May 29, last year.
The trial was told that McDonald met the woman on the street after visiting a takeaway in the early hours of the next morning.
He took her back to the hotel where they had sex and were joined by Evans, who also had intercourse with the woman.
The jury was told that as the incident took place, Jack Higgins, an “associate” of the footballers, and Ryan Roberts, Evans’s brother, watched through a window.
Video recordings found on Mr Higgins’s phone showed he had been filming or trying to film the incident, the court heard.
Evans told the jury that the woman consented and was “in control of her actions”.
Sentencing him at the time, Judge Merfyn Hughes QC said: “The complainant was 19 years of age and was extremely intoxicated.
“CCTV footage shows, in my view, the extent of her intoxication when she stumbled into your friend. As the jury have found, she was in no condition to have sexual intercourse. When you arrived at the hotel, you must have realised that.
“You have thrown away the successful career in which you were involved.”
Last season Evans’s 35 goals helped fire Sheffield United to the brink of automatic promotion, but he was released by the club in May.