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Former weekly editor aids Ched Evans rape case appeal

Don Hale pic

A former regional press editor has helped uncover new evidence which he believes will clear the name of the footballer Ched Evans, who was convicted of rape.

Don Hale, pictured left, who edited the Matlock Mercury and the Bury Messenger, has been involved for the last three years in examining the case of the former Sheffield United striker, after being contacted by his family.

Now investigative journalist Don has welcomed the news that the controversial case has been referred by the Criminal Cases Review Commission to the Court of Appeal.

He said he thought Evans’ appeal had a “very good chance of success” because of new evidence which was not presented to the court when he was convicted.

Evans, 26, was sentenced to five years in prison in April 2012 after being found guilty of raping a 19-year-old woman at a Welsh hotel.

As part of his investigations, Don interviewed Evans in prison and spoke to 14 potential new witnesses, including ones who knew his victim.

Said Don: “I think he has a very good chance of success. They don’t refer these cases lightly.

“I said right at the start of my inquiry, there’s a lot of evidence that should have been presented to the court and it wasn’t and would that have made a difference to the appeal and I think it would have.

“It is quite a fascinating case. It is not one that I would normally touch but as journalist, when somebody is willing to show you the case facts, it is quite interesting to see what went on.

“There’s clear evidence that he didn’t get a fair trial and I think he deserves his day in court. I would be very surprised if he doesn’t win.”

At his trial, Evans admitted having sex with the woman but has always insisted it was consensual.

His victim has had to change her name and move house five times after being targeted by internet trolls.

Don also claimed mistakes were made by the police with their inquiry.

He passed on his findings to Russ Whitfield, a former detective chief superintendent, who has carried out further investigations on behalf of Evans, who wants to resume his footballing career.

Don has been involved in three other “miscarriage of justice” cases, including clearing the name of Stephen Downing, who spent 27 years in jail for the murder of Wendy Sewell in 1973.

He added: “I have got quite a grounding of what’s needed for working with the CCRC, finding new evidence and presenting new facts. That’s one of the reasons the family came to me.”