England cricketer Ben Stokes was found not guilty of affray over a fight outside a nightclub which prosecutors said had left two men unconscious.
Stokes, 27, was accused of knocking unconscious two men, Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale, in a brawl in Bristol, southwest England, last September just hours after he had played in a one-day international against the West Indies.
Prosecutors said the all-rounder, who helped England to victory in the first Test against India this month but missed the second match because of the trial, had lost control after drinking heavily earlier in the night.
After being refused entry to the Mbargo nightclub, the cricketer had abused the doorman and then mocked two openly gay men, the court was told. Stokes, who was with fellow England international Alex Hales, then got into a fight with Ali and Hale.
Stokes, who denied the charge, told the jury he had been acting in self-defence after stepping in to defend the gay couple who had been on the receiving end of homophobic abuse.
He said he had not been drunk but admitted he could not remember what had been said.
The jury heard that Stokes had been in the nightclub earlier in the evening and had tried to return after it had stopped allowing entry, offering the doorman a bribe, but had been refused entry.
The doorman said Stokes had become aggressive and insulted him before the altercation occurred. Footage from closed circuit TV and from a witness’s mobile phone showed the cricketer throwing a number of punches during the incident.
Ali, 28, was found not guilty of affray while Hale was acquitted of the same charge part way through the trial at Bristol Crown Court.
Stokes missed England’s Ashes tour to Australia last winter but returned to the national side in February.