Ben Stokes cleared of affray after brawl outside nightclub

England cricketer was acquitted after he gave evidence saying he had acted in self-defence

England cricketer Ben Stokes and his wife Clare arrive at Bristol Crown Court. Photo: Adrian Dennis/Getty Images

England cricketer Ben Stokes and his wife Clare arrive at Bristol Crown Court. Photo: Adrian Dennis/Getty Images

 

The England cricketer Ben Stokes has been cleared of affray after a fight outside a Bristol nightclub.

A jury at Bristol crown court acquitted the 27-year old Durham all-rounder after he gave evidence saying he had acted in self-defence.

Stokes was on trial alongside Ryan Ali, 28, whom he was alleged to have punched unconscious in the brawl near Mbargo club. Ali was cleared of the same charge.

A third man, Ryan Hale, 27, was acquitted of the charge last Thursday on the directions of the judge, Peter Blair QC.

Stokes had maintained that he had stepped in to defend two men, whom he claimed were the target of homophobic abuse by Ali and Hale, a claim that was denied. Stokes alleged Ali, who was holding a bottle, had replied: “Shut the fuck up or I’ll bottle you.”

The cricketer told the jury: “All my actions were in self-defence and fearing for my safety.”

His lawyer, Gordon Cole QC, told the jury it was up to the prosecution to prove Stokes had not acted in self-defence, but there were gaps in the evidence that should cause the jury to be “massively concerned”.

He said Stokes had been consistent that he had acted in self-defence from the moment of his arrest, which happened after a night out with his teammates after England’s victory over the West Indies in a one-day match in the city.

The jury heard Stokes had no recollection of hitting Ali and could not remember what was said during the alleged homophobic abuse. He had denied being drunk, though told the jury he had had three to four beers, six vodka and lemonades as well as “a few Jägerbombs”.

Ali, who sustained a fractured eye socket – the court was told he continued to have problems with his vision – denied there had been homophobic abuse. He said there had been “just banter” with the two men before he saw Stokes charging towards him in the street.

Stokes’s lawyer had questioned if his client had been the focus of the prosecution because of his status. – Guardian service

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