The girlfriend and sister of Sheffield United footballer, Ched Evans, who was convicted of rape in 2012, have demanded that he be given a second chance.
Ched's girlfriend, Natasha Massey (pictured left) and sister Kylie Evans (pictured right), argued that he be allowed to return to the pitch once his sentence is over and even maintain his innocence, despite his sentence.
Appearing on This Morning, the two women stated that the footballer had served his time and deserved to be given a chance to play for the football team again, despite the fact that over 140,000 people have signed a petition demanding that he not be reinstated on the team.
Speaking to presenters Phillip Scofield and Amanda Holden, Natasha explained what happened when she first discovered the rape claims.
“We were away at the time and Ched told me what had happened and we had the conversation and then it was leaked to the paper," said Natasha, ". . .[the cheating] was obviously heart breaking and as soon as I found out that he’d been questioned over rape, my instinct was kind of protective of Ched and I thought I have to stand by him. So my thoughts and feelings over the cheating were put to one side and to help him through this terrible time.”
“I had been with him for two and a half years. I know Ched and I knew he wouldn’t be capable of committing a crime like that," she added.
Ched's sister Kylie also discussed her brother's conviction and his court case:
"Obviously it was difficult to see my brother in that situation. But we just kept saying to Ched, ‘tell the truth and you’ll be OK’. And that’s all he did… it’s shocking to us [to hear he was found guilty] because I was in court every day, I knew the case inside and out, and I don’t understand how they came to that conclusion. Obviously we’ll never know [why they found him guilty], but for some reason they did.”
Natasha continued that she "never dreamed" her boyfriend would have been found guilty.
"I never dreamed that Ched would be sent to prison. But straight away I got a message to him to say that I was standing by him and that everything will be OK… at first it was difficult, but then you adapt.”
Speaking about Ched’s possible return to football, Natasha said, “It’s out of our hands. We don’t know about Ched’s football - I’m just his partner, I don’t get involved in the football side - but I do know that Ched would love to return to football and continue doing what he knows best and what he loves.”
Before adding, “I just want to get him home and just live a normal life… We’ve never lived a celebrity life.’
The two women still maintain the footballer's innocence and directed viewers to the website ChedEvans.com, where it's possible to view the evidence against Ched.
Ched was originally convicted of raping a 19-year-old woman, who was deemed to drunk to consent to sex, in 2011. The incident took place at a hotel in Rhyl in May 2011, and the footballer was sentenced to five years imprisonment after a trial in May 2012. He is set to be released this month.
Judy Finnegan also came under fire for her comments on the matter yesterday in the programme Loose Women in which she stated that Ched should be given a second chance, as she said that the victim didn't actually suffer any “bodily harm”.