An Australian cricketer has been found guilty of raping a sleeping woman in the UK during the first night of a sexual conquest competition he helped set up on a WhatsApp group.
Alex Hepburn, 23, has been warned a jail sentence is inevitable for the attack on the dozing victim – committed just days after he set the rules of the contest to have sex with as many new partners as possible.
A jury on Friday found the former Worcestershire county all-rounder guilty of oral rape following a night out in April 2017, but cleared him of a further count of rape relating to the same victim.
A four-day trial at Worcester Crown Court heard the woman wrongly thought she was having sex with the Subiaco native’s then-teammate and Test star Joe Clarke at the players’ Worcester unit.
She told jurors she had earlier had consensual sex with England Lions batsman Clarke, who later passed out in the bathroom, leaving her asleep in the bedroom.
It was the cricketer’s second trial, the first ending when the jury was discharged in January after failing to reach a verdict.
Hepburn told jurors he had drunk up to 20 bottles of beer before the woman instigated what he believed was consensual sex.
The woman, who cannot be identified, said she had her eyes closed and engaged in 20 minutes of sexual activity with the Australian-born cricketer in a dimly lit bedroom before “clocking” who he was when he spoke.
Hepburn sighed and then slumped into his seat, covered his face with his hands and sobbed after the unanimous guilty verdict was returned.
During his evidence Hepburn admitted he sent “disgusting, horrible and embarrassing” WhatsApp messages while setting the rules of the sexual conquest competition.
Judge Jim Tindal granted Hepburn bail and warned him that a custodial sentence was inevitable.
Worcestershire County Cricket Club chairman Fanos Hira said the club was appalled by the details reported in the case and had taken decisive action immediately after they learned of Hepburn’s arrest.
“Our One Club values outline clear expectations of attitudes and behaviours for all staff at WCCC and everyone involved in Worcestershire cricket,” Hira said in a statement.
Police Detective Chief Inspector Ian Wall said Hepburn had been in a position of trust and power and the victim had shown great courage and strength in coming forward.
“I hope this conviction will provide reassurance to other victims of sexual offences, giving them the confidence that they will be believed … and that we will do everything to bring offenders to justice,” he said.