Chris Evans, an independent councillor in Wales, lost his job and has been given a conditional discharge after pleading guilty to soliciting the services of a sex worker
Image: Conor Gogarty)
A councillor caught by police with a sex worker in his car claimed he worked with her as part of his role with a charity.
Chris Evans, an independent councillor, was spotted by a police officer in Newport who was chasing a wanted man and had recognised him because of his role at Rogerstone Council.
Prosecutor Natasha Roberts told Newport Magistrates’ Court said the officer was pursuing the wanted man on foot and noticed a car pull up nearby so he went over to ask the driver if they had seen the ‘fugitive’, Wales Online reports.
She said: “The officer walked up to the vehicle to check if the wanted male had been seen by the driver. He recognised the driver as a local councillor, having been in meetings with him.”
When Evans lowered his window and said hello, the officer replied: “Hello, you’re Chris, the Rogerstone councillor.”
The officer then noticed a woman in the passenger seat and recognised her as a sexually exploited adul t due to his work with local charities.
When the officer asked why she was in Evans’ car, the councillor stuttered and replied: “Er yeah, I work with her as part of my role with the Wallich.”
The officer described Evans’ tone as “unconvincing” and when police checked with Wallich charity – which supports vulnerable people – they were told Evans had no role with them.
Evans, 56, admitted soliciting the services of a prostitute.
His lawyer Rod Young told the court the sex worker had approached him and asked him for a lift because she was owed money.
He continued: “Initially he said no, but in the end he drove her to a property in Somerton where she picked up some money, and he drove her back. It was during this journey, he concedes, that her services were discussed.
“Whether he would have ever gone through with it, we will never know. He did not go through with it and no money ever changed hands. He accepts a provision was made for an arrangement of sexual services. The officer recognised him. Had he not been a well known face, he would not have been here today.”
The court heard Evans was already resigned to losing the councillor role — but the defendant told WalesOnline after the hearing he had yet to decide on his position, adding: “Don’t push me anymore. Let me have time to have a think. There is no rule that I have to.”
He has lost his job as a senior advertising manager for the South Wales Argus and Newsquest.
Mr Young added his client pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity and the incident has had a “devastating” effect on Evans.
“He’ll never know why he did what he did that night,” Mr Young continued.
“It was a lapse of judgement, it was a moment of madness, is how he described it. He has hitherto been an elected representative, a city councillor for Rogerstone, a respected and highly-thought-of member of the community.
“Rather than put [the victim] through the ignominy of a trial, he has admitted a moment of madness, a lapse of judgement. Whatever punishment you impose today will pale into insignificance compared to what he has already suffered.
“He has lost his job as a senior advertising manager at Newsquest. He will undoubtedly lose his position as a councillor. Most importantly of all, his relationship with his daughter has been damaged, hopefully not irreparably, but for the foreseeable future.
“He’s been very close to a breakdown. He has sought professional help with a consultant psychologist on a weekly basis and has been prescribed medication.”
Presiding justice Shijil Miah handed down a conditional discharge to Evans.
He told him: “You have quite decently admitted to this guilt rather than trying to avoid or prolong it, dragging it through a trial, even though it has a huge impact on your life.
“You lost your job and your position as a councillor, and the fact it profoundly affected your mental health — having taken all that into account, we are going to impose a conditional discharge for 12 months. That means you are not being punished today for that offence.
“However, if you commit any other offence in the next 12 months you will be punished for this offence in addition to any other offence you may commit. I’m sure you won’t, someone of your record.”
Mr Miah also imposed a victim services surcharge of £22 and prosecution costs of £85, with 28 days to pay.
After being sentenced Evans spoke to Wales Online and seemed to contradict the words of his lawyer.
Asked if he would resign as a councillor, he told WalesOnline he had not yet decided, adding: “There is no ticking time bomb. It’s not what people were trying to make out.
“I am going to start to do things differently. It is what it is. I made a mistake. The world kicked back a lot bloody harder.
“I am proud. I brought my daughters up to be advocates for women’s rights. Maybe an act of kindness was interpreted as a weakness, but I am really grateful the court tried to understand what really happened.”
Evans was first elected to Newport City Council in 2012. He was originally a member of the Labour Party but became an independent councillor after he was suspended from the party in 2016.