Fleetwood Town boss Joey Barton pleased to see that Sheffield United loan star Ched Evans has had a 'weight lifted' after out of court settlement

Joey Barton and Ched Evans
Joey Barton and Ched Evans
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Fleetwood Town boss Joey Barton is pleased to see Ched Evans get "closure" and says his captain has had a "weight lifted" after the on-loan striker agreed an out-of-court settlement with lawyers over their handling of a rape case which saw him jailed.

The Sheffield United forward went through a five-year battle to clear his name and spent two and a half years in prison before he was cleared in 2016 following an appeal.

The 30-year-old has agreed a settlement, believed to be in the region of £800,000, with Brabners, the legal firm he used in the first trial.

Evans was playing for the Blades at the time and was earning a reported £18,000 a week. The case was due to go before the High Court later this month.

Barton spoke to Evans about the settlement and says the forward is in good spirits.

The head coach told the Gazette: "I had a chat with him about it. People do not understand having that hanging over you.

"Even just speaking to lawyers and stuff would distract you from football.

"I saw him on Tuesday and he looked like he had a bit of weight lifted from him.

"No doubt if you sit him down at some point, I will have a conversation with him about maintaining his momentum.

"Since he has taken the (captain's) armband he has been brilliant - not only his goals but in terms of his leadership and performance.

You can see him growing into that role. My idea was to share it round but I just think he has really taken it on.

"As I say, not having stuff away from football to deal with should allow him more energy to focus on his football. It gives him that bit of closure, which we all need.

"Hopefully it lets the outside world see that it was maybe not as straightforward as they read because he has had a tough time.

"It's great for him that he has his family and friends to get through that.

"I don't think the money will ever compensate for what he went through.

"Now he can really focus on his football and show what a fantastic player he can be and is."

Evans was originally convicted of raping a 19-year-old in North Wales in May 2011.

The Court of Appeal quashed his conviction and ordered a retrial in 2016.

Private investigators gathered new evidence, with a £50,000 reward offered for information to help his case.

In a rare move, the jury at Cardiff Crown Court heard from two men who had sex with the complainant around the time of the rape allegation.

The jury of seven women and five men took less than three hours to find Evans not guilty of the charge following the eight-day trial.

After the verdict, Evans said he was "overwhelmed with relief".

A statement on Evans's website read: "In late 2016 Ched began litigation against his original defence team of Matthew Bennett and Stuart Ripley of Brabners LLP for negligent defence.

"On Thursday 4 April 2019 Ched accepted an out of court settlement."

A Brabners spokesman said they were pleased to reach a settlement.

They said: "We are glad that Ched Evans has agreed not to pursue this case, which we believe was entirely without merit.

"Brabners put forward a strong defence of Mr Evans' claim following a thorough process and we were prepared to vigorously defend our handling of the case."