Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Ben Stokes just wanted 'a good night' on evening of nightclub scuffle

Ben Stokes arrives at Bristol Crown Court on Friday. Credit: PA

England cricketer Ben Stokes just wanted a "good night" on the evening he became involved in a fight outside of a Bristol nightclub, jurors have heard.

The 27-year-old sportsman told his affray trial that he could not have envisaged that his evening would end up in a scuffle with two men.

It came as Stokes continued the second day of his defence on Friday at Bristol Crown Court, where he faced cross-examination from prosecutors.

During proceedings, Stokes admitted punching Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale in the fight outside of Mbargo nightclub in the early hours of 25th September last year.

Ali also stands accused of affray but a similar charge against Mr Hale was dropped on the direction of the judge on Thursday.

Describing his actions as self-defence, Stokes told jurors: "It's clearly in my statement that I admit to throwing multiple punches.

"At the time of that situation, I constantly felt under threat from Mr Ali."

Asked if he was hiding recollections of the night, he said: "No, all my actions were in self-defence and fearing for my safety."

CCTV footage of Stokes's arrest was released on Thursday. Credit: Police handout

Stokes continued with his defence that in the fight he had come to the aid of William O'Connor and Kai Barry who were allegedly the targets of homophobic abuse.

"As I said, I can't recollect anything specific but I'm very clear that the words being used were of a homophobic nature," Stokes told jurors.

Nicholas Corsellis, prosecuting asked: "Is the case that nasty homophobic abuse was not being cast towards Mr O'Connor and Mr Barry?"

Stokes replied: "No, it definitely was."

Earlier, Stokes told the court: "He [Ali] was aggressive and violent towards me in what he said but he was definitely verbally aggressive with Mr Barry and Mr O'Connor."

Ryan Hale (l) was found not guilty on direction of the judge. Credit: PA

The prosecutor suggested that Stokes's eyes were "glazed" and his speech was slurred in footage recorded on a body camera worn by a police officer when he was arrested, which the cricketer denied.

Stokes denied being out on a "mission" and said what he wanted that evening was a "good night" with his England teammates.

"When we were trying to get back into Mbargo, I could not have been able to tell you how the night would have ended up," he told the court.

Mr Hale, 27, and Mr Ali, 28, were both knocked out in the fight.

Ryan Hale taking off his shirt to cushion the head of Ryan Ali. Credit: Police handout

Ali, giving evidence, said he and Mr Hale had been out on the night celebrating a friend's promotion.

He admitted that his memory from the night was "incomplete", blaming this on the head injuries sustained during the fight.

But he told jurors he believed Stokes had been "looking for someone to pick on".

Ali described the "banter" between him and Mr Hale and the gay men, Mr O'Connor and Mr Barry, as they walked away from the nightclub.

"I remember at some stage walking down that street, someone saying 'We are going home with them tonight'," Ali said.

"Then someone else said 'No you're not' or words to that effect but they got quite irate when they said it.

"I recall we were in a group of four, having a laugh and having some banter and the next thing I remember is having a tall blonde man charging towards me."

Mr Ali told the court that since the fight he has been under the care of a maxillofacial surgeon, and still suffers from blurred vision.

Stokes and Ali deny affray.