Alex Hepburn's rape conviction upheld at Court of Appeal

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Alex Hepburn was convicted of rape in 2019

A professional cricketer who was jailed for raping a sleeping woman has had his conviction upheld.

Alex Hepburn, 24, was found guilty at a retrial in 2019 on charges relating to an attack at a flat in Worcester in 2017 and jailed for five years.

His barrister challenged the conviction, arguing texts detailing a sexual conquest “game” should not have been used as evidence at his trial.

On Tuesday, the Court of Appeal denied the bid to overturn the conviction.

The Australian-born former Worcestershire all-rounder was found guilty of oral rape but cleared of a further count of rape relating to the same victim.

Speaking to the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire after Hepburn’s conviction, the woman said she had been left with facial paralysis and post-traumatic stress disorder.

In the judgment, three senior judges, including the Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett, dismissed Hepburn’s appeal, saying: “The conviction is not unsafe.”

The attack on 1 April 2017 took place on the first night of a sexual conquest competiton with his team-mates, which he helped set up on a WhatsApp group.

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Media caption“Sarah” says cricketer Alex Hepburn “will never understand” the impact the rape has had on her

Hepburn’s trial heard he was “fired up” by the idea of sleeping with the most women, before carrying out the rape at his flat in Portland Street, Worcester.

During the appeal hearing, his lawyers argued messages presented to the jury did not show that he was willing to have sex without consent.

Many of the messages related to a competition between Hepburn his former team-mates to gain sexual encounters, the court was told.

Hepburn’s barrister, David Emanuel QC, had said the content of the messages were “too far removed as to be able to be to do with the facts of the alleged offence”.

Prosecutor Miranda Moore QC argued it was right the messages were heard at the trial.

She told the court “this wasn’t a bit of boyish banter” but a “deep-seated and long-running game between a number of professional sportsmen”.

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

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

“In truth, it was foul sexism.”

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