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I was trying to protect duo, Stokes says

Ben Stokes draws crowds, simple as that. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Roar Guru
10th August, 2018
26

England cricketer Ben Stokes has told a jury he joined a fracas after hearing two revellers shout homophobic abuse at two gay men in Bristol.

The allrounder, 27, is accused of knocking out two friends, Ryan Hale and Ryan Ali, during an alleged fight in Bristol on September 25.

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 cricketer denied claims he mocked two gay men, Kai Barry and William O’Connor, outside the Mbargo nightclub and flicked a cigarette butt at them.

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

“Mr Hale and Mr Ali were shouting homophobic comments towards these two and in return Mr O’Connor and Mr Barry were going back to them,” Stokes told the jury.

“They weren’t obviously going to let them say what they were saying. I stepped in. [I said] ‘You shouldn’t take the piss because they are gay’.

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

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“As soon as I see Mr Ali swing the bottle at someone and physically hit them with it, that’s when I took the decision that I needed to get involved.

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

Under direction from his barrister, Gordon Cole QC, Stokes held up his hands and showed the jury injuries sustained from playing his sport.

The cricketer said he consumed about three or four pints of lager and five or six vodka and lemonades on the evening.

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

Stokes said the cricketers offered Cunningham around PS60 or PS70 ($104 or $120) to get them into the club, which was turned down.

“I said to him ‘Come on mate, I’ve got shit tattoos as well, let us back in’,” he told the court.

“I am constantly getting told by teammates and by who I play with that I have got shit tattoos.”

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