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England cricket ace Ben Stokes tells court he was defending a gay couple when he attacked two men outside a Bristol nightclub

ENGLAND cricket star Ben Stokes yesterday insisted he only attacked two men to stop them abusing a gay couple.

Stokes, 27, said he knocked out Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale in self defence because he felt they were threatening him and a teammate with a bottle.

Reuters

Ben Stokes (pictured with wife Clare Ratcliffe) told a court he only attacked two men to stop them abusing a gay couple

Giving evidence for the first time in his affray trial, Stokes said he “got involved” after Ali ran at batsman Alex Hales.

And he said he confronted Ali and Mr Hale after he heard them “taking the p***” out of clubbers William O’Connor and Kai Barry “for being gay”.

All-rounder Stokes told Bristol crown court he had drunk “two or three” pints of lager and “five or six” vodka and lemonades but was not drunk.

 Ali, also charged with affray, was left with a black eye and fractured socket
Ali, also charged with affray, was left with a black eye and fractured socket
 Stokes said he “got involved” after Ali ran at batsman Alex Hales
Stokes said he “got involved” after Ali ran at batsman Alex Hales

Jurors were also told how the gay men “bantered” with the star about his “bad dress sense” and £695 trainers, which were shown to the court.

There was drama midway through yesterday’s hearing when the jury acquitted co-accused Mr Hale of affray.

A judge told them there was insufficient evidence to show he threatened unlawful violence.

In his evidence, Durham star Stokes told the court he had reacted after Ali started “waving” a bottle around.

 Video footage has emerged of Stokes' arrest

PA:Press Association

Video footage has emerged of Stokes’ arrest
 Co-accused Ryan Hale (pictured) has been acquitted by the jury

Reuters

Co-accused Ryan Hale (pictured) has been acquitted by the jury

He said: “To start off with he had threatened me, he then ran at one of my friends with a bottle threatening to hit him.

“I was trying to stop Mr Ali doing damage to anyone with a glass bottle.

“I remember taking a punch at Mr Ali, both of us rolling around the floor.

“I remember someone else coming up behind me and grabbing at me.

 The bodycam footage of Stokes' arrest was released after it was shown to the jury

PA:Press Association

The bodycam footage of Stokes’ arrest was released after it was shown to the jury
 In the video Stokes asked the officer if she could loosen his handcuffs

PA:Press Association

In the video Stokes asked the officer if she could loosen his handcuffs

“I knew it from before it started that both Mr Hale and Mr Ali had bottles in their hands.

“I didn’t want to give anyone the chance of doing something to me. I was protecting myself.

“I would say, I took the decision of what I did very quickly.

“As soon as this episode started I knew that myself or other people could be a target of these men.

 Stokes had told the arresting officer that one of the men was 'abusing my two friends for being gay'

PA:Press Association

Stokes had told the arresting officer that one of the men was ‘abusing my two friends for being gay’

“One had already told me what he would do. I felt under threat by these two.

“He had ran at a close friend of mine with a bottle.

“As soon as I decided to get involved I felt that I was under threat and what I did was in defence of myself.”

Stokes, nursing a bad back, switched between sitting and standing to give evidence.

 Stokes' wife Clare has accompanied him to court for each day of the trial

PA:Press Association

Stokes’ wife Clare has accompanied him to court for each day of the trial

He told of his lager and vodka intake that night as he and England teammates celebrated a one-day win over the West Indies last September.

Stokes was then asked what led to the fight, which left Mr Hale and Ali knocked unconscious and needing hospital treatment for facial injuries.

The cricketer said he noticed Ali and Mr Hale and friends Mr O’Connor and Mr Barry shouting at each other in the street.

Stokes told the jury: “Mr Hale and Mr Ali were shouting homophobic comments towards these two. I said you shouldn’t be taking the p*** because they are gay.

“I was told by Mr Ali, along the lines of, ‘Shut the f*** up or I’ll bottle you,.”

 Stokes said Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale had been making homophobic comments

Reuters

Stokes said Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale had been making homophobic comments

The court also heard from student Max Wilson who had filmed the incident on his phone from his digs overlooking pubs and clubs in the city’s Clifton Triangle.

He said he passed the video to The Sun who in turn gave it to police.

Mr Cole told Stokes: “We’re going to ask you about the Sun footage. Were you enraged?”

Stokes replied: “I find it a difficult question to answer.”

Ben Stokes trial day three: New CCTV shows brawl, one man unconscious on the ground and another carrying pole

In bodycam footage following his arrest, Stokes was seen mouthing something to teammate Hales, 29.

Asked what he was saying, Stokes told the court: “I was telling Hales, ‘Leave, get out of here, don’t get involved’.

“I’m the one sat in a police car with cuffs on. It’s on me.”

 Stokes' mugshot was released by police

PA:Press Association

Stokes’ mugshot was released by police

In his evidence Stokes denied earlier being homophobic to Mr O’Connor and Mr Barry outside Mbargo but claimed they were bantering about his bad dress sense.

He said they were making comments about his clothes — including a pair of £695 white Buscemi hi-top trainers — shortly before the fight broke out.

The star was again watched by wife Clare, 28 — mum to their two children — who has been sitting in the public gallery throughout the trial.

He was previously accused by the nightclub bouncer of homophobia by mimicking the gay pair and flicking a cigarette butt at one.

 Stokes said he had bantered with the gay couple about his clothing

PA:Press Association

Stokes said he had bantered with the gay couple about his clothing

Asked by his barrister, Gordon Cole QC: “Were you mimicking them?”, the 6ft 2in all rounder replied: “No”.

Mr Cole asked: “Was any of it homophobic?”

Stokes replied: “No, definitely not.

“The only comments between myself and the gay couple was what we were wearing.

“I get told that quite a lot by my teammates that I dress the worst in the team.”

 Stokes had been celebrating an England victory on the night of his arrest

Getty Images – Getty

Stokes had been celebrating an England victory on the night of his arrest

Mr Cole asked: “Did you get angry about what was said?”

Stokes replied: “No.”

Mr Cole added: “Enraged?”

Stokes said: “No.”

Mr Cole held Stokes’ white designer trainers, which have a gold padlock on the heel, in the air for the jury to see.

Video of incident involving England cricketer Ben Stokes outside Bristol nightclub

That prompted Judge Peter Blair to say: “They are Italian white leather I believe.”

Asked if he remembered flicking a cigarette at the gay men, Stokes replied: “I don’t remember flicking a cigarette towards anyone as described.

“It looks like I have done something in the direction in one of these gentlemen.”

Mr Cole asked: “Do you remember throwing anything?” Stokes replied: “No.”

The cricketer said he could not remember the first person he contacted after his arrest.

He told the court: “I was stuck in a bit of a problem as I wasn’t sure who to contact.

“Being a cricketer I have a manager who looks after my stuff.”

Stokes and Ali deny affray. The case continues.

‘I’ve got s*** tattoos too’

DOORMAN Andrew Cunningham has told the court Stokes mocked him for his tattoos and gold teeth and tried to hand him £300 to let him in after 2am.

But Stokes denied offering that much money or saying anything about his teeth.

He added: “I said to him ‘Come on mate I’ve got s*** tattoos as well’.

“I’m constantly getting told from teammates that I play with that I’ve got s*** tattoos.”

He also denied giving the doorman a V-sign.


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