Ben Stokes trial: Man tried to ‘restrain player from attacking friend’

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Ryan Ali is alleged to have been knocked out by Ben Stokes

A man tried to restrain England cricketer Ben Stokes to stop him attacking his injured friend outside a nightclub in Bristol, a court has heard.

Ryan Ali, 28 was allegedly knocked out by the Durham all-rounder in the incident outside Mbargo last year.

Mr Ali, of Bristol, is on trial with Mr Stokes at the city’s crown court. Both men deny affray.

Ryan Hale, 27, was acquitted of the same charge on Thursday.

Mr Ali told jurors his recollection of events was “incomplete” after he suffered a “significant head injury” outside the club in the Clifton triangle area of the city in the early hours of 25 September.

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Ben Stokes has pleaded not guilty to affray and is on trial at Bristol Crown Court

He said he could remember walking with Mr Hale and two gay men, Kai Barry and William O’Connor “having some banter” when he saw “what I thought was a tall blonde guy in the road charging towards me”.

The court heard earlier that Mr Stokes stepped in to defend Mr Barry and Mr O’Connor, who he said Mr Ali and Mr Hale had made homophobic slurs towards.

Mr Ali recalled saying “I don’t want any trouble” and said he was “trying to calm [Mr Stokes] down”.

“He then turns his attention away from me and starts charging towards my friend, Ryan Hale, who is still unconscious in the road,” he said.

“I saw that as an opportunity to try to restrain Mr Stokes to prevent him from attacking my friend who was laid unconscious on the floor.”

Mr Ali denied being the “initial aggressor” in the incident and replied “definitely not” when asked if he had been looking for a fight.

Under cross-examination by Mr Stokes’ defence counsel, Mr Ali agreed footage shown in court showed him striking Mr Barry with a bottle.

He said he accepted at one stage turning a bottle upside down in order “to defend myself”.

Mr Stokes, of Castle Eden, Durham, was arrested in the early hours along with Mr Ali, of Bristol, and Mr Hale, of Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol.

The fight took place several hours after England had played a one-day international against the West Indies at the city’s County Ground.

The trial continues.

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