Hereford & Worcester

Alex Hepburn rape trial: WhatsApp sex game 'embarrassing'

Alex Hepburn arrives at court on Wednesday Image copyright Ben Birchall/PA Wire
Image caption Former Worcestershire CCC all-rounder Alex Hepburn has denied two counts of rape

A cricketer has denied raping a sleeping woman while "fired up" by a sexual conquest game on WhatsApp.

Alex Hepburn, 23, is charged with assaulting the woman after she had consensual sex with his former team-mate.

At Worcester Crown Court, he said he was "completely embarrassed" by the "stat chat" page used to keep a record of sex with women.

Mr Hepburn, of Portland Street, Worcester, denies two counts of rape.

Giving evidence, Australian-born Mr Hepburn said the group chat on the messaging app was "meant to be nothing more than immature chat between a group of friends".

"No thought went into it," he said, fighting back tears as he told the court his family has had to see embarrassing comments he made.

'Taking advantage'

The court heard Worcestershire all-rounder Mr Hepburn and fellow cricketer Joe Clarke - who had consensual sex with the woman before the alleged rape - were both part of the group.

Cross-examing Mr Hepburn, prosecutor Miranda Moore QC said: "This is a case about you, fired up by this 'game' you were so keen to play with your mates, taking advantage of a girl that you knew was asleep in Joe's bed."

Mr Hepburn answered: "Not true."

Ms Moore continued: "The reason you are crying now is the world knows how you behave."

During his evidence, Mr Hepburn also denied believing he was "God's gift to the women of Worcester" and said the complainant knew she was sleeping with him rather than Mr Clarke.

Mr Hepburn insisted the woman had interacted with him in a normal way, after she told jurors she was asleep when he initiated sexual contact.

He told the court he had previously arranged to sleep in Mr Clarke's bed, and drunkenly entered his room at their flat.

"After I had got myself into bed, that's when I first realised that there was a woman in the bed," he said.

"She rolled over towards me. She kissed me."

Image copyright Ben Birchall/PA Wire
Image caption Mr Hepburn, pictured arriving at Worcester Crown Court, sobbed in the dock while discussing a sexual conquest "game" he was part of

Asked by defence QC Michelle Heeley whether the woman's eyes were open or closed, Mr Hepburn replied: "Her eyes were open before she kissed me."

The court heard that the woman, who cannot be identified, pushed Hepburn off and asked him what he was doing, leaving him "shocked and confused".

Hepburn said: "I was under the impression that what we had been doing was absolutely normal."

'Ungentlemanly behaviour'

Mr Hepburn said he was no longer employed by Worcestershire because his contract had not been renewed.

In her closing speech to the jury, Ms Moore said the case was "in some ways a sad indictment of a sport always thought of as a sport of gentlemen.

"The behaviour of these young men was anything but."

She added: "Sadly what he does is treat women like disposable objects. She was some disposable object he found in his friend's bed."

Defence counsel Ms Heeley used her closing address to argue that the "only possible safe verdict" was not guilty.

She said of the complainant: "There are matters she is simply not sure of. Ultimately there were two people in the bedroom that night. What you have is one person's word against another."

The judge will conclude his summing up on Thursday, with the jury expected to retire to consider its verdicts afterwards.

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