Jury retires in Australian cricketer’s sexual assault case
The jury in the trial of an Australian cricketer accused of raping a sleeping woman has retired to consider its verdicts.
Former Worcestershire all-rounder Alex Hepburn denies raping the woman in April 2017, claiming they had consensual sex in which she “actively engaged” after opening her eyes and kissing him.
The Crown claims the Perth-born 23-year-old began to rape the woman while she was asleep in his best friend’s bed after he became “fired up” by a competition to sleep with the most women.
In her evidence to the court on Tuesday, the woman, who cannot be identified, told the court she was initially asleep during the alleged attack and then wrongly assumed Hepburn was his then teammate Joe Clarke.
The woman, who had earlier had consensual sex with England Lions batsman Clarke at the cricketers’ flat, was horrified when she realised she was in bed with Hepburn, the jury heard.
Hepburn, of Worcester, told the city’s Crown Court on Wednesday that he only saw the woman was in his teammate’s room after getting into bed beside her.
Prosecutors allege Hepburn was motivated by a sexual conquest “game” — after setting up a “stat chat” page on WhatsApp to keep a record of sex with women. During his evidence, Hepburn — who was born in Western Australia and moved to England in 2013 to pursue his cricket career — fought back tears while being asked about the WhatsApp group.
He said he was “completely embarrassed” by comments he made on the chat group, describing it as immature chat between friends.
Before the jury retired to consider its verdicts on two counts of rape, Judge Jim Tindal said the panel would have “no deadlines” and should take its time discussing the case.
During his summing up, the judge said Hepburn had posted the rules of the game to the WhatsApp group five days before the alleged rape.
The game had been played during the previous season, the judge said, adding: “It was effectively a competition — and I regret to use this word but it seems to be accurate — to ‘collect’ as many sexual conquests as possible. “It’s about ‘collecting’ new girls — to them, ‘freshies’, as they put it.”