Cricketer appears in court charged with rape

A professional cricketer has appeared in court to deny accusations he raped a woman.

Worcestershire CCC all-rounder Alex Hepburn, 21, entered not guilty pleas to two counts of sexual assault in a hearing at Worcester Crown Court, on Wednesday.

The alleged offences are said to have taken place in Worcester in April, last year.

Alex Hepburn court case
Cricketer Alex Hepburn appeared in court to deny two charges of rape relating to an allegation from 2017, against a single complainant. (Aaron Chown/PA)

Hepburn, wearing a suit and tie, confirmed his name and entered his pleas while standing in the dock flanked by a single security officer.

Setting a trial date for early in 2019, Judge Nicolas Cartwright said the trial would be heard in the city,  unless it could be moved to Hereford, which, the court heard, has no county cricket side of its own.

He said: "Alex Hepburn, you've heard the deadline I have said and the trial date is fixed for January 7  2019, here at Worcester, unless you're told in the meantime by any of the solicitors it's going to be moved to Hereford.

"If it is at Worcester, I'll observe a large jury panel is required to make sure the jurors trying the case aren't familiar with your professional persona."

.@WorcsCCC all-rounder Alex Hepburn has appeared at Worcester Crown Court, where he entered not guilty pleas to two charges of rape.

-- Richard Vernalls (@rvernallsPA) January 17, 2018

The defendant, of Priory Road, Malvern, Worcestershire, left court on unconditional bail.

Hepburn, who is yet to play first class cricket for Worcestershire, has been suspended on full pay by his club since the allegations came to light.

Worcestershire's director of cricket Steve Rhodes has also since left his role at New Road, after an internal investigation.

His departure followed an inquiry into his conduct with the club announcing it was "dealing with a disciplinary matter", connected solely to his role at the club.

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