Former cricketer Alex Hepburn, 23, has been jailed for five years
A cricketer has today been jailed for five years after raping a woman in her sleep as part of a ‘sexual conquest competition’ with his flatmate.
Former Worcestershire star Alex Hepburn, 23, was found guilty of raping the woman after she had consensual sex with his teammate Joe Clarke in the early hours of April 1 2017.
His victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was horrified when she opened her eyes to find it was Hepburn and not Clarke, who was asleep elsewhere in the flat.
His trial at Hereford Crown Court heard how the pair had exchanged vile messages boasting about how they got women ‘blind and then back to ours’.
Hepburn wrote in one message: ‘Got to understand that Hepperdawg is a horny c*** and without you keeping my head straight just goes and does rogue things.’
The sportsman told a retrial that the woman made eye contact with him and then kissed him, instigating a consensual sexual encounter lasting around 20 minutes.
But he was today sentenced to five years behind bars and placed on the sex offenders’ register for life.
Clarke and the victim had consensual sex before he passed out in the bathroom after being sick, the court heard.
Hepburn then took his opportunity to orally rape the girl and use her as a ‘disposable object’.
The attack came just days after he set the rules of the contest to have sex with as many new partners as possible.
Australian-born Hepburn, an all-rounder who played for Worcestershire CCC, was found guilty of orally raping the woman, but was cleared of a second charge of vaginal rape.
Hepburn is pictured hand in hand with his girlfriend Lucy Street arriving at Hereford Crown Court today where he was sentenced to five years in prison
Sentencing Hepburn, Judge Jim Tindal said: ‘I sentence you on the basis the jury were sure the victim was woken by you but was still barely awake and in the dark thought you were Joe Clarke.
‘You thought you were god’s gift to women. You saw the victim as a piece of meat, not another human entitled to respect.’
In a closing speech to the jury at the previous hearing, prosecutor Miranda Moore QC suggested Hepburn’s desperation to ‘score’ in the WhatsApp game may have overtaken his good sense.
Ms Moore described WhatsApp messages sent by Hepburn – including one urging cricketers playing the ‘stat game’ to rate sexual partners out of ten – as ‘dehumanising’ of women.
WhatsApp exchanges suggesting Alex Hepburn had sex with 60 women during a previous ‘game’ were not put before the jurors who convicted him.
Another message in which the all-rounder described himself and team-mate Joe Clarke as a ‘pair of tens’ who ‘should be banging models’ was also ruled inadmissible.
In the message, written to Clarke near the start of the 2017 season, Hepburn added: ‘Shame there are no f***ing models in Worcester. If there is we have banged them.’
Social media conversations which prosecutors claimed may have been ‘scores’ from a previous sexual conquest competition were also kept from the jury panel.
A message written by Hepburn said: ‘Oi last night was my 60th. Want 80 by the end of Worcs.’
Meanwhile, Clarke responded: ‘I reckon I’m about 75. I want 20 more this summer. Tough ask but reckon we have got it in us.’
The messages – recovered by police from mobile phone records – also included a reference to a ‘Tinder bird’ which dismissed her as ‘not great’ but added ‘a stat’s a stat hahaha.’
Other messages sent by Hepburn read ‘it feels like there is a population of 150 birds in Worcester and we have pumped every single one of them’ and ‘get them blind and then back to ours’.
But jurors did hear details of messages sent by Hepburn in the week of the night out which landed him in court – in which he apparently referred to threesomes involving Mr Clarke.
Several shocking texts written by Hepburn came to light after the trial. Hepburn, who refers to himself by nickname ‘heperdawg’, wrote the following message to former teammate Joe Clarke: ‘Always been me dragging the birds back. You raping them’
On a separate occasion, near the start of the 2017 cricket season, Hepburn writes: ‘Shame there are no f***ing models in Worcester. If there is we have banged them’. In another message not heard by the jury , Hepburn boasted: ‘Got to understand that Hepperdawg is a horny c*** and without you keeping my head straight just goes and does rogue things’
Hepburn wrote: ‘Clarkey you only won last year because the hepperdawg let ya have three balls with him.’
Follow-up messages sent by Hepburn stated: ‘Always been me dragging the birds back. You raping them.’
Mr Clarke replied: ‘I won by more than the two three balls I joined in with.’
That exchange was explained in court by Hepburn as being ‘light’ use of the word rape, which had been used jokingly in an attempt to get under Mr Clarke’s skin.
In another admissible message posted a day before the night when the rape was alleged to have taken place, Hepburn told his friends ‘f*** the hep is on’ after posting a tick after the words brows, haircut and tan.
In a series of messages on the same day, Mr Clarke talked about sleeping arrangements for the forthcoming weekend in the flat he shared with Hepburn.
Mr Clarke wrote: ‘If we don’t chop (have sex with a woman) me and you in your bed and (other male friends) on my mattress.’
The couple are pictured on holiday together. Ms Street has been at her boyfriend’s side throughout his trial
In a series of messages sent within two minutes, Mr Clarke added: ‘Probably will chop… So we’ll have to just both chop in your bed like the good old days!’
Clarke later described the messages to jurors as ‘lighthearted’ chat.
Prosecutor Miranda Moore QC argued that it would be fair for the jury to have ‘the whole picture’.
The Crown’s barrister told the jury: ‘You have got to judge this case on the evidence. We say that the evidence is an indicator of the mindset – both hers and his.
‘On her side, the evidence shows that as soon as she realised who it was, she was upset, distressed, pushed him off, and wanted nothing more to do with him.’
Defence QC Michelle Heeley also addressed jurors, arguing that they could not possibly be sure Hepburn was guilty.
Ms Heeley, who said Hepburn was not proud of the ‘deeply unpleasant’ WhatsApp messages, said of the woman’s evidence: ‘I lost count of the number of times she said in answer to questions from me ‘I don’t remember’.’
The retrial has heard the complainant initially told police she was unsure whether or not she had had sex with Clarke before the alleged rape by his best friend Hepburn.
During her closing address, Ms Heeley questioned why the woman had also ‘remembered’ details of sex with Clarke which she told a previous trial she could not recall.
‘She can’t get the details straight,’ Ms Heeley claimed. ‘She agrees her memory was hazy and affected by drink.’
The woman had also attempted to ‘row back’ during her evidence from her initial account to police that the sexual encounter with Hepburn lasted for around 20 minutes, Ms Heeley said.
The girlfriend who stood by Alex Hepburn’s side in the face of rape allegations
As Alex Hepburn faced allegations of rape at Worcester Crown Court, there was one stable presence by his side.
The former cricketer was pictured arriving each day with Lucy Street as he headed in to face trial.
Ms Street is currently studying graphic design at Nottingham Trent University in the East Midlands.
She and the sportsman have been pictured in loving embraces on her Facebook profile, which features holiday snaps of them lapping up the sun in a swimming pool.
The couple have been dating for at least 17 months and Ms Street was spotted dutifully supporting her boyfriend each day of his trial.
They were pictured arriving together when he was due to be sentenced at Hereford Crown Court on April 30.
Mr Hepburn is pictured with Lucy Street, who accompanied him daily at his trial as he faced allegations of rape