Ben Stokes trial: Star 'could have killed man in nightclub fight'

MANCHESTER ENGLAND- SEPTEMBER 18 England player Ben Stokes in action during England nets ahead of the 1st ODI against West Indies at Old Trafford

Stokes, Hale and a third man, Ryan Ali, were in Bristol Crown Court on Thursday for the fourth day of their trial for alleged affray in the southwest English city on September 25 a year ago. Hale was formally found not guilty and invited to leave the dock.

Under ordinary circumstances Stokes would have been playing in front of 30,000 people at a sold-out Lord's where England begin their second Test against India on Thursday.

The all-rounder, 27, is accused of knocking out two friends, Ryan Hale, 27, and Ryan Ali, 28, during an alleged brawl in the Clifton Triangle area of Bristol on September 25 a year ago.

Mr Hale told the court he did not recognise Stokes, or his England teammate Alex Hales, nor was he aware the national cricket team were in the city.

But in a statement provided to police, Stokes denied both actions and insisted he only stepped in after hearing Ali and Hale being homophobic towards the two men, named as Kai Barry and William O'Connor.

On Wednesday, the jury was shown security camera footage of Barry allegedly grabbing Ali's groin shortly before the brawl started.

Hale told police in an interview, which was read out in court, that he believed Stokes could have killed him.

Hale added: "It's the emotions of it all". "The fact I've been attacked".

"Watching the video was shocking", he said.

He added: "I'm a dad". I know what self-defence is.

The court heard Stokes was in Bristol at the time of the incident, having played a one-day worldwide against the Windies.

"He could have beaten the living hell out of me".

"The next thing you see him doing is taking his t-shirt off and putting it under the head of Ryan Ali, who has been knocked senseless to the road surface". That's quite shocking to think I've been put in that situation.

Hale, a former soldier, told police he, Ali and another man had been out celebrating his promotion at work and left Mbargo when the nightclub closed.

"I remember falling to the floor and rolling around on the floor".

"Laid out on the floor". I don't know why it happened.

Hale told police that a month before the incident he had suffered a mini-stroke - caused by an undiagnosed hole in the heart - that had affected his short-term memory. A lot of grabbing of me from behind.

"I did throw a punch at Ali", Stokes said.

On Monday, footage was shown that the prosecution said depicted Stokes mocking Barry and O'Connor, who were described as a "flamboyant, extrovert and openly gay young couple". He claimed one of the men he met in Mbargo nightclub "put his hand on my nob" and later "pinched my arse". I would say I did connect, yes. "It did not offend me at all. I have come to the conclusion you couldn't properly convict him of the charge of affray". He said Just because I m gay doesn t mean I m going home with any other bloke.

"I thought it could easily be the two of them coming on to me".

"I was like, it s fine, no problem, and just carried on walking".

Stokes and the other remaining defendant, Ryan Ali, deny affray.

"I remember saying "I don't want any trouble". I stepped in. [I said] "You shouldn't take the piss because they are gay".

"One of them had already told me what he would do verbally if I did not shut the f*** up". "I was trying to stop him from doing damage to anyone with a glass bottle".

"As soon as I see Mr Ali swing the bottle at someone and physically hit them with it, that's when I took the decision that I needed to get involved".

"Mr Hale and Mr Ali were shouting homophobic comments towards O'Connor and Barry".

"Hales runs off across the road". "I was the innocent bystander, getting attacked for nothing".

"There's no self-defence and he isn't defending anyone else".

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