Ben Stokes was "provocative and offensive" and in an "angry state of mind"
England all-rounder Ben Stokes mocked a gay man and threw a cigarette butt on his head before knocking two men unconscious in a street fight outside a nightclub last September, jury hears
England cricketer Ben Stokes mocked a gay man and threw a cigarette butt at his head before knocking two men unconscious in a fight outside a nightclub in Bristol, a jury heard. The all-rounder is accused of punching Ryan Hale, 27, to the ground and then allegedly knocking out Ryan Ali, 28, a short time later. Stokes, Hale and Ali are jointly accused of affray — a charge they all deny — and are on trial at Bristol Crown Court.
Nicholas Corsellis, prosecuting, described Stokes as being "provocative and offensive" and in an "angry state of mind" before the alleged fight. The sportsman had been in Bristol, staying in a hotel with the England cricket team, and was in the Mbargo nightclub from about 11:30 pm on September 24. He left the club with teammate Alex Hales at 12:46 am, with the pair returning and trying to re-enter at 2:08 am. Jurors were told Mbargo, as part of its licencing conditions, is unable to allow entry to additional customers after 2 am.
Stokes gets abusive
Stokes offered door supervisor Andrew Cunningham £60, then £300, for entry, and became abusive when this was refused, the court heard. Two gay men, Kai Barry and William O'Connor, emerged from the nightclub and began talking to Stokes, 27, and Hales. Corsellis told the jury: "Cunningham observed Stokes' behaviour towards them. He noted that he was mimicking their voices and mannerisms in what he described as 'a derogatory way', thereby making fun of their camp behaviour. Stokes, notwithstanding his standing or occupation as a professional athlete, also smokes. He was smoking on the evening in question.
"Cunningham had cause to be concerned when he saw Stokes take either the unlit butt or the butt of his cigarette and flick it onto O'Connor's head. Cunningham said to Stokes, 'if you want to start on anyone, start on me'." CCTV footage shows Ali and Hale leaving the nightclub at 2:23 am and engaging in conversation with Barry and O'Connor. Stokes shook hands with one of the bouncers and tried to shake hands with Cunningham, but this was refused. Corsellis said this "seemed to enrage Stokes" and he left the nightclub angry after spending 18 minutes trying to get inside. CCTV footage shows Stokes and Hales catch up with Ali, Hale, Barry and O'Connor as they stand on Queens Road.
Corsellis said it showed Barry touching Ali inappropriately to his groin area, before returning and trying to take his arm. "Ali responds by pushing Barry away, albeit with no significant force," he told the jury. Only the defendants know precisely how the fight started and it could have "stopped very quickly", he claimed. "But during the incident Stokes lost his control and started to attack with revenge, retaliation or punishment in mind," Corsellis said.
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