London, Apr 13 : Australian former cricketer Alex Hepburn has been found guilty of rape after attacking a sleeping woman.
The ex-Worcestershire player assaulted the victim at his Worcester flat after she had consensual sex with his then teammate Joe Clarke on 1 April 2017, said a BBC News report. Prosecutors at Worcester Crown Court said Hepburn "dehumanised" women, rating them in text messages.
Hepburn, 23, who was cleared of another count of rape, will be sentenced at Hereford Crown Court on 30 April. Jurors deliberated for 10 hours and 53 minutes before delivering a unanimous verdict of guilty on one count of oral rape. Hepburn sighed and then slumped into his seat, covered his face with his hands and sobbed after the verdict was returned by the foreman.
Bailing Hepburn, Judge Jim Tindal said: "There is only one sentence that can properly be handed down in this case, and a custodial sentence is inevitable." Prosecutors described how the cricketer "took advantage" of the woman. She woke up and wrongly believed she was having sex with Mr Clarke, before realising it was actually Hepburn, jurors heard.
The jury was shown a video interview in which the complainant said she woke to find a man who she thought was Mr Clarke straddling her.
She told police that after 10 minutes of sexual activity with Hepburn, he spoke in a "thick" Australian accent and she realised he was not Mr Clarke.
Giving evidence during his retrial, Hepburn said: "She was engaging in the act so I presumed she was enjoying it." Jurors were told Mr Clarke left his bedroom to be sick in a bathroom, where he passed out, leaving the woman asleep on a mattress in his room. Asked when the woman is alleged to have realised she was not with Mr Clarke, Mr Hepburn added: "She said 'what are you doing?'
"I was confused. It was no different to a normal sexual encounter."
On Wednesday, Hepburn admitted he had sent "disgusting, horrible and embarrassing" WhatsApp messages while setting the rules of a sexual conquest competition. He also admitted the conquest "game" led to him sleeping with 20 women during a similar competition in 2016. Prosecutor Ms Miranda Moore QC said earlier in the retrial: "A sleeping girl cannot consent. She would not have countenanced sexual activity with Hepburn.
"He would have known she was with his mate. She was in Joe's bed, not his. On the evidence, his bed was empty." Worcestershire County Cricket Club (WCCC) said it was "appalled" by the details in the case, while the the Professional Cricketers' Association (PCA) said the case served as a "stark reminder" of the standards it expects.
Det Chief Insp Ian Wall of West Mercia Police said: "We welcome the conviction and I hope it will offer some comfort to the victim, who has shown great courage and strength in coming forward. "At the time of the offence Hepburn was in a position of trust and power as a professional sportsman...and I hope this conviction will provide reassurance to other victims of sexual offences." UNI