04 June 2020

Cricketer jailed for rape to appeal against conviction

04 June 2020

A cricketer jailed for raping a sleeping woman in his team-mate’s bedroom is set to challenge his conviction at the Court of Appeal.

Alex Hepburn, 24, was jailed for five years in April last year for the attack, which took place at a flat in Worcester in 2017 during the first night of a sexual conquest competition he helped set up on a WhatsApp group.

His appeal will be heard by Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett and two other senior judges in London on Thursday.

The Australian-born former Worcestershire all-rounder was said by the prosecution to have been “fired up” by the contest to sleep with the most women, before carrying out the rape at his flat in Portland Street, Worcester, on April 1 2017.

Jailing Hepburn at Hereford Crown Court on April 30 last year, Judge Jim Tindal told the cricketer he and a former team-mate Joe Clarke had agreed a “pathetic sexist game to collect as many sexual encounters as possible”, following a similar stunt the previous year.

In remarks about the WhatsApp chat group, the judge said: “You probably thought it was laddish behaviour at the time.

“In truth it was foul sexism.

“It demeaned women and trivialised rape, a word you personally threw around lightly.

“Only now do you realise how serious rape is.”

That night, Mr Clarke had “done nothing wrong”, having consensual sex with the woman, leaving her sleeping while he, feeling unwell, passed out in the nearby bathroom.

It was when Hepburn got home, “alone, drunk and frustrated” that he “saw a chance” and attacked the woman, the judge said.

The judge said: “That night, Joe Clarke did nothing wrong – nor did she.”

Addressing the cricketer, Judge Tindal said: “You thought you were God’s gift to women.

“You did see her at that moment as a piece of meat, not a woman entitled to respect.

“Sex is something people do together, with that particular person at that particular time.

“Sex is never something a man does to a woman, arrogantly assuming consent – in a relationship, let alone as you did.

“As she said, in evidence, ‘that is rape’ – that is what you did.

“In that moment you scarred both your lives forever.”

A jury had found Hepburn guilty of oral rape at a re-trial earlier in the month, but cleared him of a further count of rape relating to the same victim.

The hearing is due to start at 10.30am on Thursday.

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