Ben Stokes trial: Star 'could have killed man in nightclub fight'

Rex Christensen
August 9, 2018

Earlier the jury heard that England cricketer Stokes "could have killed" as he punched two men unconscious on the street in Bristol.

It follows an alleged fracas near the Mbargo nightclub in the Clifton Triangle area of Bristol shortly after 2am on September 25 past year, hours after England had played the West Indies in a one-day worldwide in the city.

Stokes, who plays for Durham, is standing trial at Bristol Crown Court jointly accused of affray alongside Ali.

Hale was found not guilty of the same charge by the jury on the direction of the judge on Thursday.

The two gay men Stokes claimed he was defending, Kai Barry and William O'Connor, "thanked me for preventing them from being beaten up", the cricketer told police.

He insisted he had instead stepped in to protect Mr Barry and Mr O'Connor after hearing Hale and Ali, who had a glass beer bottle, shout homophobic abuse at them.

The jury at the Ben Stokes trial at Bristol crown court has been directed by the judge, Peter Blair QC, to find defendant Ryan Hale not guilty of affray following legal submissions.

"They weren't obviously going to let them say what they were saying".

"I just remember them crossing the road and there was a commotion. He was pinching my arse and I grabbed him and said: 'You're coming home with me.' He said: 'Just because I'm gay doesn't mean I'm going home with any other bloke'". "That's the moment I get smashed to the face".

"I took a swing at Mr Ali". "Then he attacked me, and Ryan intervenes, but clearly it was the other way round". I don't know why he didn't stop.

The court heard Stokes was in Bristol at the time of the incident, having played a one-day worldwide against the Windies.

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His barrister Gordon Cole QC asked: "Were you drunk?"

Due to the ongoing trial, the all-rounder will not play in the second Test at Lord's, which begins on Thursday night (AEDT). "I'm an ex-soldier, to me it's banter", he said.

However, they were refused entry by door supervisor Andrew Cunningham as it was after 2am.

Stokes said the cricketers offered Mr Cunningham around £60 or £70 to get them into the club, which was turned down.

"These men were speaking to the gay guys in what I would call a harsh and abusive way", Stokes told officers in a later statement.

He denied making a V-sign to Mr Cunningham, calling him a **** or mentioning his four gold front teeth.

"There's no self-defence and he isn't defending anyone else". "It was one of the gay couple".

In the video, a policewoman can be heard explaining to Stokes why he has been detained by police as they attempt to solve the matter. He said the pair "scuffled" on the floor, before Hale grabbed him from behind.

Stokes told police that this led him to think he was in danger of being assaulted. "We both exchanged comments about what one another were wearing".

On Monday, footage was shown that the prosecution said depicted Stokes mocking Barry and O'Connor, who were described as a "flamboyant, extrovert and openly gay young couple".

Jurors have seen footage of Stokes talking to O'Connor and Barry outside the Bristol nightclub Mbargo in the early hours of September 25 a year ago.

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