AN 'ARROGANT' cricketer who raped a woman he found "dozing" in his team-mate's bedroom has been jailed for five years.

Alex Hepburn, 23, was convicted after an attack he carried out during the first night of a sexual conquest "game" he helped to set up on a WhatsApp group.

The Australian-born former Worcestershire all-rounder was said by the prosecution to have been "fired up" by the contest to sleep with the most women, before carrying out the rape at his flat in Portland Street, Worcester, in April 2017.

Jailing Hepburn at Hereford Crown Court on Tuesday, Judge Jim Tindal told the "immature" cricketer he and a former team mate had agreed a "pathetic sexist game to collect as many sexual encounters as possible."

He added: "You probably thought it was laddish behaviour at the time.

"In truth it was foul sexism.

"It demeaned women and trivialised rape - a word you personally threw around lightly.

"Only now do you realise how serious rape is."

A jury had found Hepburn guilty of oral rape at a re-trial earlier this month, but cleared him of a further count of rape relating to the same victim.

The four-day trial at Worcester Crown Court heard that the woman wrongly thought she was having sex with Hepburn's then county team-mate Joe Clarke after meeting him at a nightclub.

She told jurors she had consensual sex with England Lions batsman Mr Clarke, who left his bedroom in the early hours to be sick in a bathroom, where he passed out.

Hepburn told jurors he had drunk the equivalent of 20 bottles of beer before he found the woman alone on a mattress at the flat he shared with Mr Clarke.

The judge told Hepburn: "That night, Joe Clarke did nothing wrong - nor did she."

He added: "I have no doubt at that stage you planned to go to bed on the mattress in Joe Clarke's room.

"When you realised a sleeping woman was there, you saw a chance, climbed onto the mattress, rousing her.

"The first thing she remembered was waking, with a penis in her mouth."

Judge Tindal told Hepburn he had "arrogantly" believed his victim would consent.

Addressing the cricketer, he said: "You thought you were God's gift to women.

"You did see her at that moment as a piece of meat, not a woman entitled to respect.

"Sex is something people do together, with that particular person at that particular time.

"Sex is never something a man does to a woman, arrogantly assuming consent - in a relationship, let alone as you did.

"As she said, in evidence, 'that is rape' - that is what you did.

"In that moment you scarred both your lives forever."

His barrister, Michelle Heeley QC, said her client had expressed remorse.

However, in what the judge called a "brave" victim impact statement, the woman Hepburn attacked described her ordeal as "evil" and a "heinous crime."

The victim described how she suffered recurring nightmares in the form of "a repeat of the rape" nearly every night of the week, adding the pressures of coping with her ordeal had eventually ended her relationship with her then-boyfriend.

"I take off my hat to anyone who can hold down a healthy happy relationship, after being raped," she added.

"I am flooded with guilt that I can't ever seem to escape.

"Now all the people I care (for) and love suffer as well."

Her once "happy-go-lucky" character had now also disappeared, she said, adding: "I mourn who I used to be."

She said: "I can't remember the last time I went anywhere without creating mental escape plans, just in case."

Describing the impact on her physical and emotional health, the court heard she now suffered panic attacks, anxiety, and "violent anger outbursts", and had struggled to hold down a steady job.

Following the sentencing, Detective Chief Inspector Ian Wall said: "We welcome the sentence today and I hope it will offer some comfort to the victim, who has shown great courage and strength in coming forward in reporting this to us, throughout the investigation and in giving evidence in court.

"I hope this conviction will provide reassurance to other victims of sexual offences, giving them the confidence that they will be believed and listened to by specially trained officers and that we will do everything to bring offenders to justice."