Cricketer Alex Hepburn rape conviction overturned at Court of Appeal

WION Web Team New Delhi, India Jun 30, 2020, 03.56 PM(IST)

Cricketer Alex Hepburn rape conviction overturned at Court of Appeal Photograph:( Twitter )

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Australian-born former Worcestershire all-rounder, Alex Hepburn, who was jailed for raping a sleeping woman in his teammate’s bedroom has lost his Court of Appeal bid to have the judgment overturned.

Australian-born former Worcestershire all-rounder, Alex Hepburn, who was jailed for raping a sleeping woman in his teammate’s bedroom has lost his Court of Appeal bid to have the judgment overturned. The 24-year-old, Hepburn was jailed for five years in April 2019 for the attack, which took place in Worcester in 2017 during the first night of a sexual competition he set up on a WhatsApp group.

Earlier, a jury had found Hepburn guilty of oral rape at a retrial but cleared him of a further count of rape relating to the same victim. 
Hepburn was said by the prosecution to have been “fired up” by the competition to sleep with most women before the 24-year-old carried out the rape at his flat in Worcester on April 1, 2017. The four-day trial heard that the woman wrongly thought she was having sex with Hepburn’s then county team-mate Joe Clarke, after meeting him a club.

The Australian-born cricketer had challenged the sentence at the Court of Appeal earlier in June. However, in a judgement on Tuesday, three senior judges, including the Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett, dismissed the appeal while stating: “The conviction is not unsafe.”

Conviction is not unsafe: Court of Appeal on Alex Hepburn appeal

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During the Court of Appeal hearing, Hepburn’s lawyers argued that messages presented to the jury didn’t show he was willing to have sex with a woman without consent. 

Hepburn’s barrister, David Emanuel QC, said: “The idea propagated by the Crown, that he was so desperate to win the game this year that he would ignore true consent if he had to, is just not supported by anything in the messages or by the fact of the game itself.”

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Mr Emanuel told the judges: “I accept it would be different if there was talk of sex against will, or trickery to gain a point, or taking a chance, but there’s nothing like that in the messages.

“They are too far removed as to be able to be to do with the facts of the alleged offence.”

Reacting to the WhatsApp chat group created by Hepburn’s help, the judge said: “You probably thought it was laddish behaviour at the time. In truth, it was foul sexism.”

Joe Clarke, a former England Lions cricketer, is plying trade with Nottinghamshire.