Ben Stokes trial: England cricketer denies lying to jury over ‘homophobic abuse’ on night of arrest

Ben Stokes has denied lying to a jury by claiming he stepped in to stop homophobic abuse before his arrest outside a nightclub.

The England cricketer was accused of “exaggerating” claims two men were hurling insults at a gay couple before he knocked the alleged abusers unconscious in Bristol city centre.

During the fifth day of his trial for affray, prosecutors suggested the 27-year-old was “an angry man” who “lost all control” during the alleged brawl on 25 September.

Stokes insisted he intervened to stop Ryan Ali, 28, and Ryan Hale, 27, from abusing William O’Connor and Kai Barry outside Mbargo nightclub.

But he said a “significant memory blackout” prevented him recalling the exact nature of the insults.

Giving evidence for the second day, he told Bristol Crown Court: “I can’t remember the specific words used, but the manner in which Mr Hale and Mr Ali were speaking towards the two gentlemen was homophobic abuse.

“The temperature obviously rose as I started to intervene with what the two guys were saying towards Mr Barry and Mr O’Connor.

“Mr Barry and Mr O’Connor were shouting back at Mr Hale and Mr Ali.”

Stokes said Mr Ali replied “f**k off or I’ll bottle you” after he intervened, before swinging a beer bottle at his England teammate Alex Hales and delivering a glancing blow to Mr Barry’s shoulder.

Onlooker Max Wilson, who filmed the fracas from his bedroom window above, told the court it appeared to start with one man shoving another but Stokes could not recall this.

The cricketer described Ali – who is also charged with affray – as “aggressive and violent”.

But Anna Midgley, representing Ali, suggested Stokes had “overexaggerated the exchange between Mr O’Connor and Mr Barry and the two Ryans in an attempt to justify [his] own violent behaviour”.

She added: “You have misrepresented your own behaviour to the jury as you did when you said to the police that they were ‘abusing my two friends for being gay’.”

Ms Midgley accused Stokes of not taking responsibility for his behaviour, but the cricketer replied: “It’s clear in my statement that I admit to throwing multiple punches.”

He said he felt “constantly under threat” during the alleged brawl.

Jurors have heard Stokes had “at least 10 drinks” after England’s win in a one-day international win against the West Indies hours earlier.

After celebrating over “two or three pints” at the team hotel, Stokes and teammates Jake Ball, Alex Hales, Jonny Bairstow, Liam Plunkett and James Anderson took taxis to Mbargo at 11.25pm.

The defendant said he drank six or seven vodka and lemonades while at the venue and Pryzm, another nightclub in Bristol, as well as “a few” Jagerbombs.

Nicholas Corsellis, prosecuting, suggested that Stokes’s eyes were “glazed” and his speech slurred in bodycam footage following his arrest.

Stokes replied: “No.”

Mr Corsellis said: “You seem to have a really significant memory blackout. You don’t remember really significant parts of this incident do you, for example knocking Mr Ali out?”

Stokes answered: “You could say that, yes.”

He denied his lack of recollection was due to being drunk but said he could not say whether he had been hit in the head during the fracas.

Mr Corsellis accused of Stokes of lying to the jury and “hiding behind” a lack of recollection because he knew “full well” that he had acted out of revenge.

He suggested Stokes had thought “I am going to show you what violence is” and “I am going to retaliate and I am going to punish you” before knocking Ali and Mr Hale unconscious.

Stokes was “an angry man who has lost all control”, the prosecutor claimed.

The cricketer replied: “No, all my actions were in self-defence and fearing for my safety.”

Ben Stokes arrest footage released by police

Mbargo door supervisor Andrew Cunningham previously told the court that Stokes became “enraged” after he refused to let him and Mr Hales re-enter the club as it was after 2am.

He claimed Stokes made abusive comments about his four gold teeth and tattoos.

Stokes denied this and said he had instead told Mr Cunningham: “Come on mate, I’ve got s**t tattoos as well.”

CCTV footage appears to show Stokes looking down his nose at Mr Cunningham, pointing at him and shouting.

But Stokes told the jury: “I might just be looking at the night sky.”

Mr Corsellis asked: “Who were you speaking to when you were looking at the night sky?”

Stokes replied: “God?”

Stokes, of Stockton Road, Castle Eden, Durham, and Ali, of Forest Road, Bristol, each deny a charge of affray.

The trial will continue on Monday.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *