Commission refers the rape conviction of Ched Evans to the Court of Appeal

The statement contains: 

  • Details about the case and the CCRC’s decision to refer the conviction for appeal. The Commission will be unable to provide further details above and beyond those included here. 
  • A comment/quote from the Chair of the CCRC explaining that the decision is not a judgment on the guilt or innocence of Ched Evans or the honesty or integrity of the victim in the case. 
  • Background information about what happens following a CCRC referral to the Court of Appeal. 
  • Details of the availability of comment/interview with the CCRC. 

 

The Criminal Cases Review Commission has referred the conviction of Ched Evans to the Court of Appeal.

Mr Evans appeared at  Caernarfon Crown Court in April 2012 charged with rape.   He pleaded not guilty but was convicted and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment.

Mr Evans sought leave to appeal. His application for leave to appeal was heard and dismissed by the full court in November 2012.

He applied to the Criminal Cases Review Commission in July 2014.

The Commission received further submissions from Mr Evans’ legal representatives in January and April 2015.

Following an in depth, ten-month long investigation, the Commission has decided to refer the case to the Court of Appeal. The referral is made on the basis of new information which was not raised at trial, and which in the view of the Commission, could have added support to Mr Evans’s defence at trial and therefore raises a real possibility (see note one)  that the Court of Appeal may now quash the conviction. It will now be for the Court to hear a fresh appeal to decide the case.

The reasons for the referral are set out in detail in a 49-page document prepared by the Commission and called a Statement of Reasons. That Statement of Reasons has today been sent by email to the Mr Evans’ legal team. It has also gone the Court of Appeal and to the Crown Prosecution Service. The Commission is not at liberty to make the Statement of Reasons public (see note 2).

Richard Foster, Chair of the Criminal Cases Review Commission, said:

“The decision of the Commission is not a judgment on guilt or innocence in relation to Ched Evans, nor is it a judgment about the honesty or integrity of the victim or any other person involved in the case.

“Our role is to consider applications to see if, in our judgment, there is any basis on which to ask the court to hear a fresh appeal – that is our statutory responsibility.

“In this case we have identified new material which was not considered by the jury at trial and which in our view might have assisted the defence. In those circumstances, it is right and proper for the matter to be before the Court so that they can decide whether or not the new information should affect the verdict in this case.”

Mr Evans is represented by Draycott Browne Solicitors.

What about the victim?

The Commission is very aware of the potential impact that its work can have in relation to victims of the crimes for which CCRC applicants are convicted. In any case where there is a high level of media interest, and/or where a referral is made, the Commission is at pains to keep the victim informed about the progress at key point in the CCRC process.

We have been particularly mindful of the targeted abuse suffered by the victim in this case and have sought to act accordingly. Since this application arrived in July 2014, we have been careful to keep her informed about stages of the Commission’s review so that, as far as it has been in our power to do so, she has learned about developments in the case from us rather than from any other source. As is usual whenever the Commission refers a case for appeal, we ensured that she was informed of the decision through a trusted source before the referral was made.

The Commission would like to draw attention to the fact that the identity of the victim is protected by law and that it is a criminal offence to publish material that leads to her identification.

What happens when a case is referred?

When a case is referred by the Commission to the Court of Appeal, the CCRC Statement of Reasons is sent to the applicant, to the Court and to the prosecuting authority (so that it can decide if /how to oppose the appeal).

A referral by the Commission means that the Court of Appeal is obliged to hear a full appeal. There is no need for an application for leave to appeal as long as the grounds for the appeal form part of the Commission reasons for referring the case. (If an appellant wishes to add grounds of appeal that do not form part of the Commission’s Statement of Reasons, they must seek the Court’s leave (permission) to do so.

Once a CCRC referral is made, the Commission plays no further part in the case. It is not involved in the subsequent appeal. The listing and hearing of the appeal itself is a matter for the Court of Appeal and the parties to the appeal.

What is the range of possible outcomes at Court?

The Court can:

Uphold the conviction (also know as dismissing the appeal)

Quash (overturn) the conviction

Quash the conviction and order a retrial (the ordering or retrials is relatively rare when an appellant has already served the sentence has been served.

Interview /Comment

The extent to which the Commission can offer further comment on this case or provide specific details about the reasons for the referral is limited. The Chairman of the Commission, Mr Richard Foster, will be available to

comment in person (along the lines provided in this press release) for the media at the Commission’s offices in Birmingham city centre between 14:30 and 16:00 on Monday. To make an arrangement call Justin Hawkins on 0121 232 0906 or on 07947 355 231. Alternative times will be considered.

Earlier statements

Earlier statements issued by the Commission relating to this case appear under “press releases” at: ccrc.gov.uk

This press release was issued by Justin Hawkins, Head of Communication, Criminal Cases Review Commission, on 0121 232 0906 or e-mail

Note one: The “real possibility” test is the test that the CCRC is statutorily required to apply when making a decision about whether or not to refer a case. It is set out in section 13 of the Criminal Appeal Act 1995 and can be seen here:  www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1995/35/section/13

The Act says:

(1)A reference of a conviction, verdict, finding or sentence shall not be made under any of sections 9 to 12 unless—

(a)the Commission consider that there is a real possibility that the conviction, verdict, finding or sentence would not be upheld were the reference to be made,

(b)the Commission so consider—

(i)in the case of a conviction, verdict or finding, because of an argument, or evidence, not raised in the proceedings which led to it or on any appeal or application for leave to appeal against it, or

(ii)in the case of a sentence, because of an argument on a point of law, or information, not so raised, and

(c)an appeal against the conviction, verdict, finding or sentence has been determined or leave to appeal against it has been refused.

 

Note two: Statutory restrictions on disclosure in the Criminal Appeal Act 1995 mean that, even where a case is referred, the Commission cannot provide details of the substance of its investigations other than to the applicant, the appeal court and other parties such as the relevant prosecuting authority. When a case is referred, it means that an appeal will be heard, usually in public, at which the findings of the Commission’s investigation will be considered. Mr Evans and his legal team are at liberty to share the Commission’s Statement of Reasons if they choose to do so.

Other notes for editors

 

  1. The Commission is an independent body set up under the Criminal Appeal Act 1995. It is responsible for reviewing suspected and alleged miscarriages of criminal justice in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is based in Birmingham and is funded by the Ministry of Justice.

 

  1. There are currently 12 Commissioners who bring to the Commission considerable experience from a wide variety of backgrounds. Commissioners are appointed by the Queen on the recommendation of the Prime Minister in accordance with the Office for the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ Code of Practice.

 

  1. The Commission usually receives around 1,500 applications for reviews (convictions and/or sentences) each year.  Typically, around 3.5%, or one in 29, of all applications are referred to the appeal courts.

 

  1. The Commission considers whether, as a result of new evidence or argument, there is a real possibility that the conviction would not be upheld were a reference to be made.  New evidence or argument is argument or evidence which has not been raised during the trial or on appeal.  Applicants should usually have appealed first. A case can be referred in the absence of new evidence or argument or an earlier appeal only if there are “exceptional circumstances”.

 

  1. If a case is referred, it is then for the appeal court to decide whether the conviction is unsafe or the sentence unfair.