‘Now you realise how serious rape is’
A cricketer who raped a sleeping woman as part of a WhatsApp sex conquest game was slammed for treating his victim "like a piece of meat", as he was jailed for five years.
Alex Hepburn, 23, had been "fired up" by the sick game aimed at sleeping with the most women when he sexually assaulted the victim while she was "still in a daze" at his flat in Worcester.
The Australian-born former Worcestershire CCC all-rounder was sentenced to five years behind bars at Hereford Crown Court.
A judge slammed the cricketer for his "appalling" and "arrogant" actions as he ruled Hepburn would be listed on the sex offender's register for life.
Judge Jim Tindal told the "immature" cricketer he and a former teammate had agreed to a "pathetic sexist game to collect as many sexual encounters as possible".
He added: "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.
"You thought you were God's gift to women, you treated the victim like a piece of meat, not another human being who deserves respect."
In what the judge called a "brave" victim impact statement, the woman Hepburn attacked described her ordeal as "evil" and a "heinous crime".
Judge Tindal 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."
Hepburn had walked into court today holding hands with his girlfriend Lucy Street, who has supported him throughout the trial.
Hepburn's barrister, Michelle Heeley QC, said her client had expressed remorse.
The cricketer had sobbed after being found guilty of oral rape at a retrial earlier this month. He was cleared of a further count of rape relating to the same victim.
The four-day trial at Worcester Crown Court had previously heard how the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, wrongly thought she was having sex with Hepburn's then county teammate Joe Clarke, after meeting him at a nightclub in April 2017.
She told jurors she had consensual sex with England Lions batsman Mr Clarke, who left his bedroom in the early hours to be sick in a bathroom, where he passed out.
Hepburn told jurors he had drunk the equivalent of 20 bottles of beer before he found the woman alone on a mattress at the flat he shared with Mr Clarke.
Claiming he reasonably believed the woman had consented, Hepburn told jurors she had rolled over in bed, kissed him, and instigated "normal" consensual sex.
But the woman told the court she was sleeping at the start of the encounter and had believed she was with Mr Clarke until Hepburn spoke in an Australian accent.
During his evidence at this month's retrial, Hepburn admitted sending "disgusting, horrible and embarrassing" WhatsApp messages while setting the rules of the sexual conquest competition involving other cricketers.
WhatsApp exchanges suggesting Hepburn had sex with 60 women during a previous "stat game" were not put before the jurors who convicted him.
Another message in which the all-rounder described himself and Mr Clarke as a "pair of tens" who "should be banging models" was also ruled inadmissable during a pre-trial hearing.
In the message, written to Clarke near the start of the 2017 cricket season, Hepburn added, "Shame there are no f***ing models in Worcester. If there is we have banged them."
In another message not heard by the jury using what is thought to be a nickname, Hepburn bragged: "Got to understand that Hepperdawg is a horny c*** and without you keeping my head straight just goes and does rogue things."
RULES OF THE 'STAT CHAT' GROUP
Alex: "Rules of the stat game, it starts on the first night Joe returns (from tour).
Alex: "Got to be freshies, names, age, black or white, your rating, their rating.
Alex: "The loser has to buy dinner and the second loser will have to buy drinks, the winner gets to enjoy a free night.'
Alex: "Excited as f**k lads, Clarkey the shags have to be legit? (not prostitutes) may the best man win, P.S. We should probably get tested this summer."
Joe: "No re-heats allowed (having sex with the same person)."
Tom: "Joe you only won last year because the heppdog let you three ball (have a threesome) with him.
Alex: "There be me dragging them home and you raping them.
Alex: "Can we do nicknames?"
Joe: "Yeah, we should, my nickname is king (crown emoji)."
Alex: "Mine is (battery emoji) because I can go all night #breakthepuss"
Tom: "(running man emoji) because I probably be gone home on my own that night."
Alex: "Eyebrows (tick), hair (tick), tan (tick), f**k."
Joe: "I won't have my bed down there, so just bring a mattress. So if we do chop, it will have to be in your bed."
Alex: "F**k my boots, we are on."
Australian-born Hepburn came to the UK aged 17 to join Worcestershire CCC.
The court heard Hepburn had consumed around 15 units of alcohol with his friends in nightclubs Sin and Bushwhackers in the city centre on the night of March 31, 2017.
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission