England's Stokes 'spiteful before fight'


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Ben Stokes arrives at Bristol Crown Court for the second day of his trial

England cricketer Ben Stokes was “spiteful and angry” towards a bouncer before he was involved in a fight with two men, a court has heard.

The Durham all-rounder is one of three men accused of fighting in Bristol on 25 September.

Bristol Crown Court previously heard Ryan Ali, 28, and Ryan Hale, 27, were knocked unconscious by 27-year-old Mr Stokes.

They also deny affray and are on trial alongside the cricketer.

Giving evidence, bouncer Andrew Cunningham said Mr Stokes became abusive after he was refused entry back into Mbargo nightclub just after 02:00 BST.

Teeth and tattoos

Mr Stokes and his team-mate Alex Hales had left the nightclub at 00:46 but returned at 02:08.

Mr Cunningham said he explained to them the club was closed and they would not be allowed to enter.

He told the jury Mr Stokes offered him £300 to be let in, but after he refused the all-rounder became “spiteful and angry” and insulted Mr Cunningham’s gold teeth and tattoos.

Det Con Daniel Adams said CCTV footage played in court showed Mr Stokes flicking a V-sign at Mr Cunningham.

However, the cricketer’s barrister Gordon Cole QC said it was not accepted that Mr Stokes had made the gesture.

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Ryan Ali (left) and Ryan Hale have also pleaded not guilty to affray

The CCTV also shows two men, William O’Connor and Kai Barry, leaving the club in the Clifton Triangle area of the city and the pair engaging in conversation with Mr Stokes and Mr Hales.

Prosecutors say Mr Stokes mocked the two “openly gay” men outside the venue.

However, Mr Cole said Mr Barry and Mr O’Connor, who had both been inside the club, had been “taking the mickey” out of his client’s shoes.

Referring to the CCTV, Det Con Adams told jurors Mr Stokes had “mimicked the actions” of Mr O’Connor and then “flicked something which we believe was a cigarette butt” at him.

Mr Cunningham described Mr Barry and Mr O’Connor as “effeminate” and “flamboyant” and told the court Mr Stokes had “made noises” and “camp hand gestures” to mock them.

He said he told Mr Stokes: “If you are going to start on someone, start on me.”

The bouncer continued: “When I said this [Mr Hales] looked a bit confused.

“I explained to him what he had done. He turned to his friend and said ‘Stokesy don’t do that’.”

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Media captionBen Stokes and Alex Hales are seen on CCTV outside the nightclub

Mr Cunningham said that before leaving the club area Mr Stokes shook hands with his door supervisor colleague but he refused to do so.

“He went to shake mine and I had no reason to shake his hand,” he said. “They left and walked up the road.”

Mr Cunningham denied he had been aggressive towards Mr Stokes and Mr Hales when they returned to the club.

During cross-examination, Mr Cole said: “You were rude in the way you spoke to them. They then stood outside for quite some time laughing and joking.

“They were laughing and joking with Mr O’Connor and Mr Barry.”

Mr Cunningham replied: “Definitely not. I never became aggressive. They were laughing and joking at them, not with them.”

The prosecutor suggested there was an exchange of “mickey taking” and “banter” between Mr Stokes and Mr Hales and the two gay men.

But Mr Cunningham replied: “That’s not how I would call it.”

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Andrew Cunningham said Mr Stokes became abusive after he was refused entry into a nightclub

Stephen Mooney, representing Mr Ali, asked Mr Cunningham whether Mr Stokes and Mr Hales had treated him with “respect and courtesy”.

“No,” the doorman replied.

The court has heard Mr Stokes knocked out both Mr Hale and Mr Ali when he and Mr Hales caught up with them, and Mr O’Connor and Mr Barry, on a nearby street.

Mr Ali is said to have threatened Mr Hales with a bottle, while Mr Hale is alleged to have pulled a metal pole from a street sign and brought it to the scene.

Mr Stokes claims he was acting in self-defence and took action after his co-defendants were homophobic towards Mr O’Connor and Mr Barry.

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The fight took place after Mr Stokes was turned away from Mbargo nightclub, the court heard

The jury was shown video footage recorded by film student Max Wilson, who said he began filming after he heard a commotion and “thought there was a fight about to break out”.

“Someone shoved another person,” he said. The six men sounded like “football hooligans” and were “clearly drunk”, he added.

In the footage Mr Wilson was heard to swear after a punch was thrown.

Asked why he reacted in that way, he replied: “It was such a forceful punch. It just took me by surprise.

“I felt a little bit sorry about the lad that had been punched and it looked like he had his hands up.”

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 West Indies at the city’s County Ground.

The trial continues.


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