Former cricketer Alex Hepburn, 23, has been jailed for five years for raping a woman on April 1 2017 at his flat in Worcester
A cricketer has today been jailed for five years after raping a ‘dozing’ woman as part of a ‘foul sexual conquest competition’ with his teammate.
Former Worcestershire star Alex Hepburn, 23, raped the woman as she slept in his flat in Worcester after she had sex with his teammate Joe Clarke.
His victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was horrified when she woke up in the early hours of April 1 2017 to find it was Hepburn not Clarke in bed with her.
The all-rounder’s trial at Hereford Crown Court heard how he and Clarke 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 his victim had made eye contact with him and then kissed him, instigating a consensual sexual encounter lasting around 20 minutes.
But jurors didn’t believe him and he was today sentenced to five years behind bars and placed on the sex offenders’ register for life.
Blasting him, 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.’
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
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 victim woke to find Hepburn straddling her while she was still ‘in a daze’ and pushed him away before running from the flat where she was found in a state of distress by a passer-by.
She told police she had thought it had been Clarke ‘being cheeky’ and ‘went along with it’ before realising it was Hepburn.
She told police: ‘It wasn’t until I heard his voice and touched his hair I realised it wasn’t Joe.’
Giving evidence, the victim sobbed: ‘When I realised it was him, I was confused.
‘I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t the person who I fell asleep next to. When I pushed him he was kind of pawing at my legs and encouraging me telling I’m beautiful.’
The attack came just days after he set the rules of the contest to have sex with as many new partners as possible, jurors were told.
Australian-born Hepburn, who used to play for Worcestershire CCC, was found guilty of orally raping the woman, but was cleared of a second charge of vaginal rape at a hearing earlier this month.
He arrived at today’s sentencing hand-in-hand with his girlfriend Lucy Street, who has stood by him despite the charges against him.
Judge Tindal summed up the case, saying: ‘On March 31 2017, she went out with friends for the evening and met Joe Clarke.
‘That evening they went back to the flat and on the mattress in room, had sex. He felt sick and went to the bathroom – and she went to sleep.
Hepburn is pictured being led away by prison guards and loaded into a van outside Hereford Crown Court this afternoon after being sentenced to five years in prison
‘It emerged in the trial you and Joe Clarke had agreed a pathetic, sexist game to collect as many sexual encounters as possible.
‘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, Joe Clarke did nothing wrong – nor did she. You were definitely playing the sexist game that evening, making a nuisance of yourself at the bar.
‘But you went home alone, drunk and frustrated. I have no doubt at that stage you planned to go to bed on the mattress at Joe Clarke’s.
‘When you realised a sleeping woman was there, you saw a chance, climbed onto the mattress, rousing her.
‘The first thing she remembered waking, with a penis in her mouth.’
In what the judge called a ‘brave’ victim impact statement, the woman Hepburn attacked described her ordeal as ‘evil’ and a ‘heinous crime’.
He praised her for giving evidence through two trials, adding: ‘I hope she can now finally be able to look to her future which will be, I am sure, bright.’
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’
A victim impact statement read out by Miranda Moore QC, prosecuting, said: ‘This has had an enormous impact on my sleep.
‘I began to have recurring nightmares, five to seven times a week. They would wake me and make me afraid to go to sleep.
‘My dad has had to sit an listen to detail of what his baby girl has been through in a courtroom of strangers.
‘I struggle with anxiety. It’s something the rape has brought on.
‘I began to suffer with panic attacks in Christmas, 2017. In May 2018 I had an all-time low.
‘I sought medical help and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety and had 12 weeks of therapy.
‘In the run up to the first trial I began to suffer with PTSD again. The only way I felt safe was to be in my own home.’
Michelle Heeley QC, defending, said: ‘He accepts the victim must have thought he was Joe Clarke.
‘He expresses remorse and it was true remorse that she has been put through this.
‘The moment she said ‘what are you doing?’, he did not seek to force himself upon her. He stopped and was genuinely confused.
The couple are pictured on holiday together. Ms Street has been at her boyfriend’s side throughout his trial
‘The jury found Alex Hepburn believed she was consenting but that belief was not reasonable in the circumstances.
‘This is an unusual case. The victim is in a bed which the defendant expected to be sleeping in.
‘The fact he was acquitted of the other count demonstrates it was important for there to be a trial for everything to be aired.
‘He has lost everything. He has lost his career, his character and he is going to lose his liberty.
‘How a young man comes back from that is a difficult question. He was a young and immature man.
‘He accepts he abused the position. He has suffered death threats as a result of media coverage of this.
‘He is truly remorseful for all that he has put everyone in this case through.
‘He accepts the jury’s verdict that his belief was not a reasonable belief.’
During the trial 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.
Hepburn is pictured hand in hand with his girlfriend Lucy Street at a previous hearing at Worcester Crown Court on April 8
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.
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.
The couple are pictured together outside Worcester Crown Court for another hearing on January 10 this year
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.’
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.
Following the sentencing, Detective Chief Inspector Ian Wall of West Mercia Police said: ‘We welcome the sentence today and I hope it will offer some comfort to the victim, who has shown great courage and strength in coming forward in reporting this to us, throughout the investigation and in giving evidence in court.
‘I hope this conviction will provide reassurance to other victims of sexual offences, giving them the confidence that they will be believed and listened to by specially trained officers and that we will do everything to bring offenders to justice.
‘If you are a victim of a sexual offence you can report it to police on 101 or via West Mercia’s Victim Advice Line on 0800 952 3000. In an emergency dial 999.’
Hepburn is pictured in a navy blue suit arriving at Hereford Crown Court to be sentenced today
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 at his sentencing hearing on April 30, when he was jailed for five years and placed on the sex offenders’ register for life.
Mr Hepburn is pictured with Lucy Street, who accompanied him daily at his trial as he faced allegations of rape