Hereford & Worcester

Alex Hepburn rape trial: Accuser's 'eyes closed during attack'

Alex Hepburn Image copyright PA
Image caption Alex Hepburn denies two charges of rape

A cricketer climbed into a bed and raped a sleeping woman while her eyes were closed, a court has heard.

Worcestershire all-rounder Alex Hepburn is charged with assaulting the woman after she had consensual sex with his then team-mate Joe Clarke.

Giving evidence, his accuser told a trial she wrongly thought she was having sex with Mr Clarke when the attack began.

Australian-born Mr Hepburn, 23, denies two counts of rape.

At Worcester Crown Court, his barrister, Michelle Heeley QC, asked whether the woman had been "fairly drunk" after drinking wine, prosecco and spirits during a night out in April 2017.

"I was tipsy but well aware of what I was doing," she responded.

Under cross-examination, she said some details of what had happened on the night were "a bit hazy", but rejected the suggestion her memory of the initial sexual contact with the defendant was "not completely clear".

She denied the suggestion she had woken up, kissed Mr Hepburn and performed a sex act on him after he got into the bed.

'Pushed him off'

The woman further denied Ms Heeley's assertion she and the defendant had "moved around the bed".

"I was asleep. From what I can remember I was lying still on my back," the witness said.

Ms Heeley said: "The fact it continued for ten minutes, I suggest, shows it was something you were actively enjoying and engaging in?"

The woman responded: "No. My eyes weren't open."

Ms Heeley went on: "Nothing that you had said or done would have told Mr Hepburn that you weren't enjoying this sex?"

"I pushed him off when I realised, but before, no," the woman said.

At the end of her cross-examination, Ms Heeley asserted: "I suggest it is a possibility that your memory of how sex with Alex Hepburn started is not completely clear?"

The witness answered: "No."

The court also heard that Mr Clarke was initially arrested after the woman told police she could not remember whether or not she had had sex with him.

At a later point, the court heard, she had sought out Mr Clarke, who has played for England Lions, to apologise "because it was nothing to do with him."

Jurors previously heard Mr Hepburn, of Portland Street, Worcester, and his team-mate were involved in a sexual conquest "game" - after setting up a "stat chat" page to keep record of sex with women.

Image copyright Rex Features
Image caption Ex-Worcestershire batsman Joe Clarke said he was "shocked" after hearing the rape allegations against his friend

England Lions and former Worcestershire CCC batsman Mr Clarke said the accused is still his best friend.

Giving evidence on Tuesday, Mr Clarke, 22, who now plays for Nottinghamshire, claimed the woman contacted him about four months after the incident and told him she wanted to drop the case.

Answering questions from defence counsel Ms Heeley, Mr Clarke said the woman had sought him out in August or September 2017 and seemed eager to speak with him.

"I told her I didn't want to speak to her," he said.

"She said that she didn't want any of this to happen, to which I said 'If you didn't want any of this to happen, it wouldn't still be going on'.

"She said 'I wanted to drop it but they won't let me'."

Recalling the night in April 2017, Mr Clarke told a jury of eight women and four men that he left a bedroom to be sick after drinking Guinness, vodka and other spirits.

"I didn't want to be sick in front of her so I went to the bathroom," he said.

Mr Clarke said the next thing he was aware of was the woman waking him up and saying: "Your housemate has just slept with me. Alex has raped me."

Asked by prosecutor Miranda Moore QC what his reaction had been, Mr Clarke added: "I was very shocked. I put my head in my hands and just questioned it."

Mr Clarke told the court Mr Hepburn "just said no and shook his head" when confronted by his friend.

The trial continues.

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