FOOTBALLER Ched Evans has been released from jail after serving half of a five-year sentence for raping a 19-year-old woman in a hotel.
Evans left Wymott Prison, near Leyland, Lancashire, in a silver Mercedes 4x4 just before 5am on Friday.
In a statement posted on his website, his family and girlfriend Natasha Massey confirmed his release and said they are determined to overturn his conviction.
The statement said: “Today at 5am he was released from custody and will continue the fight to clear his name.
“Chedwyn Evans maintains his absolute innocence and his family, friends and many who know the true facts of the case believe that his conviction was a gross miscarriage of justice.”
The Wales striker was jailed in April 2012 for raping the woman in a hotel room in Rhyl, North Wales.
The 25-year-old striker’s release will pile more pressure on his former club, Sheffield United, to say whether he will be allowed to play for them again.
Many Blades fans have called for him to be rehabilitated, but almost 150,000 people have signed an online petition urging the Bramall Lane club not to welcome him back.