Cricket player, Alex Hepburn, who was jailed in 2019 for raping a sleeping woman, lost his court appeal to have his conviction overturned on Tuesday June 30.
Hepburn, an Australian aged 24, was jailed for five years last April for assaulting a “dozing” woman during a “conquest” contest he helped set up with his friends on WhatsApp.
He was found guilty of rape but cleared of another attack on the woman as the prosecution had claimed he was “fired up” by the contest to sleep with the most women, before carrying out the rape at his flat in Portland Street, Worcester, on April 1 2017.
Hepburn challenged his conviction at the Appeal court early this June telling
the London Appeal Court that messages about a sex game should not have been revealed at the rape trial and his sentence should be reduced, but three senior judges today dismissed his appeal, saying: “The conviction is not unsafe.”
According to the Appeal Court judges the whatsapp posts presented to the jury did not show he was willing to have sex without consent.
Many of the messages related to a game between Hepburn and a number of others to gain sexual encounters, the court heard.
His lawyer David Emanuel said that was “just not supported by anything in the messages”.
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.”
Prosecuting counsel, Miranda Moore QC, argued that it was right that the WhatsApp messages were heard at the trial as it wasn’t just banter.
She told the court that “this wasn’t a bit of boyish banter at a point in time” but a “deep-seated and long-running game between a number of professional sportsmen”.
Judge Jim Tindal, while passing sentence to Hepburn at Hereford Crown Court last year, told the cricketer he and a former teammate, Joe Clarke, had agreed to a “pathetic sexist game to collect as many sexual encounters as possible”, following a similar stunt the previous year.
In remarks about the WhatsApp chat group, the judge said: “You probably thought it was laddish behaviour at the time.
“In truth it was foul sexism.”