Court hears how Stokes “felt under threat of immediate attack”
By Sky News
Last Updated: 08/08/18 6:39pm
Ben Stokes was told “shut up or I’ll bottle you” after he took exception to two men acting in a “homophobic” way, a court has been told.
The England cricketer is accused of affray following an alleged incident outside a Bristol nightclub during the early hours of September 25 last year.
In his first statement to police, Stokes described how he and England teammate Alex Hales were heading to a casino when they saw “two guys who were obviously gay” being spoken to by “two much larger men”.
In the statement, which was read to a jury at Bristol Crown Court, Stokes told officers the men were speaking to the two others in a “harsh and abusive way”.
He added: “It was homophobic in nature. It wasn’t at all like banter. I took exception and said ‘leave it out’ and ‘you shouldn’t be taking the piss because they’re gay’.
“One of the guys responded – he said ‘shut up or I’ll bottle you’ in an aggressive tone to me.”
The 27-year-old, who played in England’s one-day victory over the West Indies at the Bristol County Ground the evening before, said he saw a “dark bottle” in the right hand of the man and that he “thought he was going to assault me”.
Stokes described how the pair “scuffled” before the other man “grabbed me and pulled me”.
“I was worried it might be two on to one and I knew one had had a bottle just before this,” he said.
“So, I felt the need to defend myself. I felt I was going to be attacked. I didn’t feel I had an option to leave in the heat of the situation.
“I grappled with the second guy, in the course of that I can recall hitting him more than once. There were punches.”
Stokes added he “felt under threat of immediate attack from both these men and I did what I did only in order to defend myself”.
The court had earlier been told by an onlooker that Stokes was the “main aggressor” in a fight in the Clifton Triangle area of Bristol.
Off-duty police community support officer Andrew Spure, who had attended a colleague’s leaving do at the Mbargo nightclub on the night in question, said in a statement – written hours after the alleged incident – he saw “three to five people involved in some form of scuffle”.
“I walked into the road to try to separate the group and get in between them,” he said.
“As I was on my own, when I separated two of them more people carried on behind me.
“While I was trying to stop the fighting, one of the males struck the other in the head with a clenched fist.”
When asked about separating Stokes and Ryan Ali, 28, Mr Spure told the court: “The individual seemed to be the main aggressor or was progressing forward trying to get to another individual.
“In my statement I describe him as a gentleman with ginger or light brown hair. He had a green t-shirt on.”
Mr Spure said Ali “seemed to be trying to back away or get away from the situation” before he was punched by Stokes.
The court heard Mr Spure identified Stokes to police officers, who then arrested the cricketer.
Ali and his friend Ryan Hale, 27, are also standing trial accused of affray during the alleged incident.
Latest on Stokes’ trial on Sky news
In a second statement to police, Stokes denied mimicking Kai Barry and William O’Connor, whom he referred to as “the gay couple”, in a derogatory way.
He also denied flicking a cigarette butt at or towards anyone.
Stokes told police he “did not feel in any way drunk or impaired” and that he had consumed two or three pints at dinner before a further five drinks of vodka with a mixer in the Mbargo nightclub.
The prosecution has read medical evidence of injuries sustained by Ali and Hale.
Ali, who was taken to hospital by ambulance, suffered a fracture to the left side of his face, a swollen eye, a cut above his eyebrow, a cracked tooth and bruising to his head.
Hale, who cycled to hospital, was found to have bruising and a 1.5in cut to his forehead.
The cricketer is missing England’s upcoming second Test match with India at Lord’s due to the trial at Bristol Crown Court.
Share if you enjoyed this post!