A CRICKETER accused of raping a woman in his best friend’s bed will have to wait to learn his fate after the jury failed to reach unanimous verdicts.

Former Worcestershire County cricketer Alex Hepburn denies two counts of rape at a flat in Portland Street, Diglis, Worcester. The jury of eight women and four men retired at 11.27am yesterday morning but by 4pm had yet to reach a decision. Deliberations will continue today.

The 23-year-old denies the rapes, alleged to have taken place on April 1, 2017. Hepburn claims sex was consensual and that the woman was ‘actively engaging’ and enjoying the experience. Throughout the trial Hepburn has maintained that he believed the woman knew it was him she was having sex with rather than his best friend and then teammate, Joe Clarke.

However, in her evidence the complainant said she believed she was having sex with Mr Clarke, not Hepburn, only realising Hepburn’s identity when she heard his Australian accent.

The court heard Mr Clarke had sex with the woman on the same mattress earlier that morning after the two left Worcester nightclub Bushwackers together.

Hepburn returned to the flat later that morning and also had sex with her while Mr Clarke was in a bathroom where he had gone to be sick.

The woman later woke Mr Clarke, saying Hepburn had raped her and was seen by a woman ‘wailing’ in the street outside. A 999 call was made and Hepburn was arrested.

Miranda Moore QC, prosecuting, said in her closing speech: “It’s a sad indictment of a sport that has been thought of as a sport of gentleman.”

Miss Moore told the jury the court was ‘not a place for sympathy’ because Hepburn had lost his cricketing career as a result of the allegations.

She asked the jury to consider whether Mr Clarke, Hepburn’s best friend, was ‘here with an agenda’ and said there was evidence he had told the complainant not to call the police. Miss Moore said: “I’m sure Mr Hepburn is mortified that the world knows about how he and others behave. He’s embarrassed and ashamed now but he wasn’t then.”

Miss Moore said the complainant had given no previous inkling of fancying Hepburn and had pushed him off as soon as she realised the man in bed with her was not Mr Clarke. She said: “There’s not a shred of evidence she did consent to have a sexual encounter with Alex Hepburn.”

Miss Moore also emphasised Hepburn’s no comment interview and his prepared statement which she said was ‘precious thin on detail’.

She told the jury: “She was just a disposable object he found in his best friend’s bed.”

However Michelle Heeley QC, for Hepburn, reminded the jury that the burden of proof lay with the prosecution. She acknowledged the group WhatsApp messages were ‘deeply unpleasant’ and that Hepburn sleeping naked with Joe Clarke ‘may be distasteful’. But she added: “That doesn’t make him a rapist.”

She added: “It’s a very large step from being a sexist lad to being a rapist.”

Miss Heeley stressed that the complainant’s evidence was affected by the alcohol she had consumed and she could not initially remember whether she and Mr Clarke had had sex.

Miss Heeley said, by the time the woman had sex with Hepburn, it would be even lighter in the room than when she had sex with Mr Clarke, asking the jury how she would know it was getting lighter if she kept her eyes closed during sex with Hepburn as she claimed.

Miss Heeley said Hepburn ‘did not pretend to be anyone other than himself’.

“He did not in any way try to deceive her” said Miss Heeley.

The trial continues.