Alex Hepburn: 'Sex conquest' texts 'prejudicial' at rape trial

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Alex Hepburn police mugshotImage source, West Mercia Police
Image caption,
Alex Hepburn was jailed for five years in April 2019

A cricketer who was convicted of rape has argued texts detailing a sexual conquest game should not have been used as evidence at his trial.

Alex Hepburn, 26, was found guilty at a retrial in 2019 on charges relating to an attack at a flat in Worcester in 2017 and jailed for five years.

His barrister challenged his conviction at the Court of Appeal, arguing the WhatsApp messages were prejudicial.

A reserved judgement will be written and handed down in due course.

Australian-born Hepburn was convicted of one count of oral rape on a woman who had had consensual sex with his Worcestershire teammate Joe Clarke.

Media caption,

"Sarah" says cricketer Alex Hepburn "will never understand" the impact the rape has had on her

Speaking after Hepburn's conviction, the woman said she had been left with post-traumatic stress disorder.

During the retrial in April 2019, WhatsApp messages were seen by jurors relating to a sexual conquest competition involving Hepburn and his teammates.

At London's Court of Appeal, David Emanuel QC, representing Hepburn, argued the messages did not refer to having sex without consent and should not have been used.

He said they did not support "the idea propagated by the Crown, that he was so desperate to win the game this year that he would ignore true consent" and argued their use had been prejudicial.

Hepburn was cleared of another count of raping the same woman and Mr Emanuel told the Appeal Court the verdicts were "inconsistent".

The CPS argued the WhatsApp messages were used in evidence "to shine a light on the appellant's state of mind".

"This wasn't a bit of boyish banter," Miranda Moore QC said.

Jailing Hepburn at Hereford Crown Court last year, Judge Jim Tindal branded the WhatsApp group "a pathetic sexist game".

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