Australian cricketer Alex Hepburn loses appeal after being convicted of rape
Australian cricketer Alex Hepburn, who was jailed for raping a sleeping woman in England, has lost his appeal to have his conviction overturned.
Hepburn, 24, was jailed for five years last year for assaulting a “dozing” woman during a “conquest” contest he helped set up on messenger service WhatsApp.
The ex-Worcestershire player was found guilty of oral rape but cleared of another count of rape on the same woman.
The prosecution had claimed he was “fired up” by the contest to sleep with the most women, before carrying out the rape at his flat in Portland Street, Worcester, on April 1 2017.
Hepburn challenged his conviction at the Court of Appeal earlier this month.
But, in a judgment handed down, three senior judges, including the Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett, dismissed his appeal, saying: “The conviction is not unsafe.”
London’s Appeal Court heard earlier this month that messages about a sex game should not have been revealed at the rape trial.
Appeal Court judges were told the posts presented to the jury did not show Hepburn was willing to have sex without consent.
Many of the messages related to a game between Hepburn and a number of others to gain sexual encounters, the court heard.
Hepburn’s lawyer David Emanuel said that was “just not supported by anything in the messages”.
Mr Emanuel told the judges: “I accept it would be different if there was talk of sex against will, or trickery to gain a point, or taking a chance, but there’s nothing like that in the messages.
“They are too far removed as to be able to be to do with the facts of the alleged offence.”
Miranda Moore QC argued that it was right that these WhatsApp messages were heard at the trial.
She told the court that “this wasn’t a bit of boyish banter at a point in time” but a “deep-seated and long-running game between a number of professional sportsmen”.
Jailing Hepburn at Hereford Crown Court last year, Judge Jim Tindal told the cricketer he and a former teammate, Joe Clarke, had agreed to a “pathetic sexist game to collect as many sexual encounters as possible”, following a similar stunt the previous year.
In remarks about the WhatsApp chat group, the judge said: “You probably thought it was laddish behaviour at the time.
“In truth it was foul sexism.”
This story originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission