Wednesday 27 March 2019

Cricket star knocked out men in brawl, jury told

England cricketer Ben Stokes, accompanied by his wife Clare, outside Bristol Crown Court. Photo: Adrian Dennis/Getty
England cricketer Ben Stokes, accompanied by his wife Clare, outside Bristol Crown Court. Photo: Adrian Dennis/Getty

Rod Minchin and Claire Hayhurst in London

England cricketer Ben Stokes "lost control" and knocked two men unconscious in an alleged fight outside a nightclub in Bristol after drinking, a court has heard.

The 27-year-old all-rounder is accused of punching Ryan Hale (27) to the ground and then "after a time to pause for thought" allegedly knocked out Ryan Ali (28).

Mr Stokes, Mr Hale and Mr Ali are jointly accused of affray - a charge they all deny - and are on trial at Bristol Crown Court.

Prosecutor Nicholas Corsellis said a row took place in the Clifton Triangle area of the city on September 25, 2017, shortly after 2am after the three defendants had all left the Mbargo nightclub having all been drinking. He told the jury: "In the early hours of the morning of Monday, September 25, 2017, a fight took place between these three defendants in central Bristol in the area known as the Clifton Triangle.

"They were, the crown say, all involved in threatening and/or using unlawful violence towards each other. Some participated to a greater extent than others, as you will see.

"How precisely it started is only known by the defendants. The violence that erupted could actually have stopped very quickly and it would have remained a relatively minor incident," Mr Corsellis said.

"But during the incident Mr Stokes lost his control and started to attack with revenge, retaliation or punishment in mind.

"Well beyond acting in self-defence or defence of another. He knocked Mr Hale unconscious and then - after time to pause for thought, to calm - he did exactly the same to Mr Ali.

"Mr Ali received significant injuries, including a fractured eye socket, and required hospital treatment."

Mr Corsellis added: "This was not a trivial moment of unpleasantness. It was a sustained episode of significant violence that left onlookers shocked at what was taking place.

"A bottle was used at the beginning by Mr Ali and a broken street sign brought into the fray towards the end by Mr Hale.

"It is with regret that these defendants are before you, for they are all young men of promise. The defendant, Ben Stokes, is a professional cricket player who has reached the top of his profession and represented his country.

"Equally, Mr Ali has worked for the emergency services and Mr Hale has served his country in the armed forces.

"It almost goes without saying, but past success, fame or good deeds does not absolve you from your duty - and the law - to behave yourself. The law and court favour no person and all are to be judged equally."

Mr Stokes, of Stockton Road, Castle Eden, Durham; Mr Ali, of Forest Road, Bristol; and Mr Hale, of Burghill Road, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol, are on bail. The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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