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Ben Stokes Tells Affray Jury: 'I Wasn’t Angry And Drunk I Was Talking To God'

By Sara C Nelson

Court artist sketch of Ben Stokes being questioned by Gordon Cole QC, in the stand at Bristol Crown Court

England cricketer Ben Stokes has denied being “angry and out of control” on the night he is alleged to have knocked out a man during a brawl outside a nightclub.

The 27-year-old instead suggested to the jury at Bristol Crown Court that CCTV footage may have captured him talking to God.

The all-rounder is accused of affray in the Clifton Triangle area of Bristol during the early hours of 25 September last year.

He is on trial alongside Ryan Ali, 28, who Stokes is alleged to have knocked out during the fracas near the Mbargo nightclub. Co-accused Ryan Hale, 27, was acquitted on Thursday.

Stokes and Ali deny a joint charge of affray.

Speaking in court, Stokes said:“I recall I potentially had some Jaegerbombs in Mbargo.”

Nicholas Corsellis, prosecuting, suggested to Stokes that the reason he was having problems remembering exactly what happened that night was because he was “actually really very drunk”.

Stokes replied: “No.”

Under cross-examination, Stokes said that he intervened because Ali and his friend Ryan Hale had directed homophobic abuse at two gay men, but could not say what those words were.

Corsellis asked: “You don’t remember any of the words of the homophobic abuse that you assert took place.”

Stokes replied: “I am very clear that the words that were used were homophobic.”

The prosecutor said: “You don’t really remember significant parts of this incident, for example knocking Mr Ali out? Is that because you were really very drunk?”

Stokes replied: “No.”

Corsellis asked: “Your lack of memory might be down to something else. You weren’t actually hit that evening, you weren’t struck to the head, you had no injury to the lip, forehead, eye or head?”

Stokes replied: “My injuries were nothing compared to Mr Ali.”

CCTV footage of Stokes outside Mbargo nightclub

The prosecutor went on: “It is not a question of your memory being affected by injury, you were uninjured from the cricket match you played that day.

“You didn’t suffer from memory loss problems, so how can you not remember striking Mr Ali with such force rendering him unconscious?”

Stokes replied: “I think the whole incident would have been clouded because it was such… there was a lot of people around… a lot of shouting.

“I don’t remember every little detail which has gone on that night.”

The cricketer told the court he had not mocked or been homophobic towards Barry and O’Connor. He said he could not remember flicking his cigarette butt at them or knocking Ali unconscious a short time later.

Stokes insisted Ali was aggressive and homophobic towards O’Connor and Barry. “He was aggressive and violent towards me in what he said but he was definitely verbally aggressive with Mr Barry and Mr O’Connor,” Stokes said. “It’s clearly in my statement that I admit to throwing multiple punches. At the time of that situation, I constantly felt under threat from Mr Ali.”

Corsellis asked: “Is it because you are hiding behind your lack of recollection because you know full well you carried out a retaliatory attack upon those two men, first Mr Hale and then Mr Ali?”

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

Corsellis asked Stokes if he had a “significant memory blackout” from the night in question. Stokes replied: “You could say that, yes.”

Corsellis suggested that Stokes’s eyes were “glazed” and his speech was slurred in the footage recorded on a body camera worn by a police officer when he was arrested, which the cricketer denied.

Stokes denied being out on a “mission” and said what he wanted that evening was a “good night” with his England teammates. “When we were trying to get back into Mbargo, I could not have been able to tell you how the night would have ended up,” he told Corsellis.

Stokes denied making a comment about doorman Andrew Cunningham’s gold teeth and said he told him: “Come on mate, I’ve got shit tattoos as well.”

The footage recorded on the CCTV camera outside Mbargo was played to Stokes.

Corsellis suggested to Stokes that he had been angry, shouted and pointed at Cunningham after the bouncer refused to shake his hand.

“I don’t think you can tell if I’m angry,” Stokes replied.

When the prosecutor asked what Stokes was looking at, he said: “I might just be looking at the night sky.”

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

Stokes replied: “God?”

Corsellis asked Stokes to tell the jury of six men and six women what homophobic abuse he heard shouted at the two gay men, Kai Barry and William O’Connor.

“As I said, I can’t recollect anything specific but I’m very clear that the words being used were of a homophobic nature,” Stokes said.

Corsellis asked: “On the day of your arrest you were saying it was homophobic abuse. You had your solicitor draft a letter where it was amplified to nasty homophobic abuse.

“It has been nine months since the incident. You have, I’m sure, thought of this constantly. Please can you help the jury of what you mean and what was said?”

Stokes replied: “I can’t remember specific words, no.”

Corsellis asked: “Is the case that nasty homophobic abuse was not being cast towards Mr O’Connor and Mr Barry?”

Stokes said: “No, it definitely was.”

The prosecutor asked Stokes what he had said to Ali and Mr Hale prior to the confrontation and what they had said in reply.

Stokes insisted Ali told him to “Shut the f*** up or I’ll bottle you” after he told him to stop verbally abusing Mr O’Connor and Mr Barry.

Corsellis asked: “Was it the case that you decided in the state you were in you were going to seek confrontation with Mr Ali and Mr Hale because that’s what you wanted to do?” Stokes replied: “Absolutely not.”

Corsellis asked Stokes about the footage recorded by student Max Wilson, which showed part of the alleged fight in which Alex Hales can repeatedly be heard shouting “Stokes”.

“Was he shouting at you because everybody wanted you to stop,” Corsellis asked. Stokes said he did not hear Hales calling his name or trying to hold him back from confronting Ali.

Stokes completed giving his evidence on Friday afternoon. The trial continues.

Via:: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/ben-stokes-tells-affray-jury-i-wasnt-angry-and-drunk-i-was-talking-to-god_uk_5b6d6e3ee4b0530743c90d6a