Accused Cricketer Denies Believing He Was "God's Gift To The Women Of Worcester"
9 January 2019, 17:16
A cricketer accused of raping a sleeping woman has claimed he only realised she was in his team-mate's room after getting into bed beside her.
Former Worcestershire CCC all-rounder Alex Hepburn told jurors the woman rolled over towards him, opened her eyes, kissed him and then engaged in around 20 minutes of consensual sex.
During evidence in his defence, Hepburn denied believing he was "God's gift to the women of Worcester" and said his alleged victim knew she was sleeping with him rather than fellow cricketer Joe Clarke.
Prosecutors allege Hepburn raped the woman following a night out in April 2017 after she had consensual sex with England Lions batsman Mr Clarke, who had then left his bedroom to be sick.
Addressing jurors at Worcester Crown Court from the witness box on Wednesday, Hepburn, 23, broke down three times as he insisted the woman had "interacted" with him in a normal way.
He told the court he entered Mr Clarke's room at their flat - after seeing him leaning against a wall in the bathroom - because he had previously arranged to sleep in his friend's bed.
Describing himself as drunk at the time of the alleged offence, the player said: "After I had got myself into bed, that's when I first realised that there was a woman in the bed.
"The lighting was dim. You couldn't make out the door on the other side of the room but you could see what was in front of you and around.
"She rolled over towards me. She kissed me."
Asked by defence QC Michelle Heeley whether the woman's eyes were open or closed, Hepburn replied: "They were open. Her eyes were open before she kissed me."
Telling the court he had recognised the woman before they kissed, Hepburn went on: "We moved around as you normally would if you are interacting and having sex with a female.
"She was enjoying it. She was actively engaged with me."
The court heard that the woman, who cannot be identified, pushed Hepburn off and asked him what he was doing, leaving him "shocked and confused".
Ms Heeley asked Hepburn: "What did she say next?"
Hepburn answered: "She asked me where Joe was and I replied that he was in the bathroom. I was under the impression that what we had been doing was absolutely normal."
Jurors have heard claims that both Hepburn and Mr Clarke were involved in a sexual conquest "game" - after setting up a "stat chat" page on WhatsApp to keep a record of sex with women.
During around two hours of evidence, Hepburn - who was born in Western Australia and moved to England in 2013 to pursue his cricket career - fought back tears while being asked about the WhatsApp group.
He said he was "completely embarrassed" at comments he had made - saying of the messages: "My family has had to see them.
"It was meant to be nothing more than immature chat between a group of friends. No thought went into it."
Under cross-examination by prosecutor Miranda Moore QC, Hepburn said he was no longer employed by Worcestershire because his contract had not been renewed.
Ms Moore then asserted: "This is a case about you, fired up by this 'game' you were so keen to play with your mates, taking advantage of a girl that you knew was asleep in Joe's bed."
Hepburn answered: "Not true."
As Hepburn sobbed in the dock, Ms Moore continued: "The reason you are crying now is the world knows how you behave."
The alleged victim has told the court she was asleep when Hepburn began sexual contact and then wrongly thought she was having sex with Mr Clarke, who now plays for Nottinghamshire.
In her closing speech to the jury, Ms Moore said of Hepburn: "Sadly what he does is treat women like disposable objects. She was some disposable object he found in his friend's bed."
Defence counsel Ms Heeley used her closing address to argue that the "only possible safe verdict" was not guilty.
She said of the alleged victim: "There are matters she is simply not sure of. Ultimately there were two people in the bedroom that night. What you have is one person's word against another."
Ms Heeley said the woman had varying accounts of how sexual contact with Hepburn started and could not remember whether she had had sex with Mr Clarke when she gave her initial account to police.
The jury is due to retire to consider its verdicts on Thursday.
Hepburn, of Portland Street, Worcester, denies two counts of rape.