Stokes denies homophobic comments


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Media captionFootage from the arresting officer’s bodycam has been shown to the jury at Mr Stokes’ trial.

England cricketer Ben Stokes told a court he “stepped in” to defend two gay men before an alleged brawl.

The Durham all-rounder is one of two men accused of fighting outside a Bristol nightclub on 25 September.

Mr Stokes, 27, denies affray and says he acted in self defence. He said he had drunk up to three pints and six vodka and lemonades but was not drunk.

Ryan Ali, 28, has also denied affray while Ryan Hale, 27, was acquitted at Bristol Crown Court of affray earlier.

Giving evidence for the first time, Mr Stokes told the court he intervened when he heard Mr Hale and Mr Ali “shouting homophobic comments” at two gay men, Kai Barry and William O’Connor.

He told the jury: “I stepped in and said ‘you shouldn’t be saying these things to these two men’.”

‘Knocked unconscious’

The prosecution has accused Mr Stokes of mimicking the voices and mannerisms of Mr Barry and Mr O’Connor in what was described as “a derogatory way”.

Mr Stokes was asked by his barrister Gordon Cole QC if any of his actions towards the two gay men outside Mbargo nightclub were homophobic.

The cricketer told the court: “Definitely not. The only comments between myself and this gay couple was about what we was wearing that night.”

Prosecutors previously told the court Mr Ali, who they say had been holding a glass beer bottle, and Mr Hale were knocked unconscious by Mr Stokes.

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Julia Quenzler

Image caption

Ben Stokes has begun giving evidence in his defence in court

When asked what was “the first action in any violence” Mr Stokes replied: “Mr Ali turning the bottle he had. He took the neck of the bottle.”

Mr Stokes said he had been “protecting himself” and the people around him when he got involved in the fight.

He said: “I took the decision for what I did very quickly. As soon as this episode started I knew not just myself but other people could be a target of these two men.

He added: “As soon as I decided to get involved, everything I did was under self-defence. I did what I could to keep myself and those around me safe.”

When asked if he had become “enraged” at any point during the incident, Mr Stokes replied it was a “difficult question to answer”.

The 6ft 2in tall sportsman added: “I didn’t know they could be carrying more weapons on them.

“They could decide to attack me at any time if I was to turn my back on either of these two.

“At all times I felt under threat from these two.”

Mr Stokes, who was dressed in court in a blue suit, white shirt and blue tie, said that after a win against the West Indies he had celebrated at the ground then had two or three pints with a meal.

After the meal, Mr Stokes and some of his England teammates went to Mbargo, where they drank five or six vodka and lemonades.

‘Nothing unusual’

Mr Cole asked: “Were you drunk?” “No,” Mr Stokes replied.

The cricketer said a large group then decided to go to the Pryzm nightclub instead.

Mr Cole showed the jury a photograph of Mr Stokes and teammates James Anderson, Jake Ball and Alex Hales taken outside Pryzm.

He then returned to Mbargo in a taxi with Mr Hales.

Mr Stokes said there was nothing unusual in how he had behaved in his dealings with nightclub doorman Andrew Cunningham.

When asked by Mr Cole if he had become enraged at some point, Mr Stokes said: “No.”

He also said he did not remember flicking his cigarette at the gay couple outside the club.

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PA

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Ryan Hale has been found not guilty of affray

The court heard earlier that former soldier Mr Hale told police in a formal interview he believed Mr Stokes could have killed him.

He added: “I’m a dad. He could have killed me. I don’t know why he didn’t stop.”

Mr Stokes, of Castle Eden, Durham, and Mr Ali, of Bristol, both deny a joint charge of affray.

The trial continues.


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