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Australian Cricketer Sentenced To Jail In The UK

An Australian cricketer who raped a woman he found "dozing" in his teammate's bedroom has been sentenced to five years in prison by an English court.

Alex Hepburn, 23, committed the attack during the first night of a sexual conquest "game" he helped to set up on a WhatsApp group.

The former Worcestershire county all-rounder is alleged to have been "fired up" by the contest to sleep with the most women, before carrying out the rape at his flat in Portland Street, Worcester, in April 2017.

Jailing Hepburn at Hereford Crown Court on Tuesday, 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".

"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."

Hepburn's barrister, Michelle Heeley QC, said her client had expressed remorse.

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."

At a retrial earlier this month, a jury found Hepburn guilty of oral rape but cleared him of a further count of rape relating to the same victim.

The four-day trial at Worcester Crown Court heard the woman wrongly thought she was having sex with Hepburn's then-county teammate Joe Clarke after meeting him at a nightclub.

She told jurors she had consensual sex with 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 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 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 Clarke as a "pair of tens" who "should be banging models" was also ruled inadmissible during a pre-trial hearing.

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