Ben Stokes (pictured with wife Clare during a court break today) was the ‘main aggressor’ in the fight, Bristol Crown Court heard
This is the moment England cricketer Ben Stokes took his shirt off to place below the head of his floored rival shortly before police arrived at the scene.
The sportsman today claimed he was told ‘shut up or I’ll bottle you’ as he insisted at his affray trial that he needed to defend himself.
Stokes said he was walking along a road in Bristol with his teammate Alex Hales when they saw two men being abusive and homophobic to two gay men.
The 27-year-old sportsman claimed he took exception to the abuse, before one of the men allegedly threatened to attack him with a bottle.
Stokes added that his ‘perception was that it was two against one’ and he feared the men had more weapons.
Stokes is on trial at Bristol Crown Court accused of calling a bouncer a ‘c***’ and mimicking two gay men last September.
Minutes later Stokes allegedly punched ex-soldier Ryan Hale and emergency services worker Ryan Ali to the ground.
Hale, 27, and Ali, 28, who are also accused of affray, held glass bottles during the brawl and one brandished a metal pole, witnesses have said.
But community support officer Andrew Spure, who was at a colleague’s leaving do at Mbargo nightclub in Bristol at the time, claimed Stokes was the ‘main aggressor’.
Stokes is accused of punching former soldier Ryan Hale, 27, and emergency services worker Ryan Ali, 28, (left and right today) to the ground
In a statement written hours later, Mr Spure told how he had left the club and ‘saw a group of people fighting’, adding: ‘One of the males struck the other in the head with a clenched fist’.
Bristol Crown Court heard it was Stokes who had struck Ali, knocking him to the floor and leaving him with a shattered eye socket.
Asked about separating Stokes and Ali, Mr Spure said: ‘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.’
He said Ali ‘seemed to be trying to back away or get away from the situation’ before he was punched by Stokes.
Mr Spure said in his statement that Ali had facial injuries and a bloodied eye and was ‘completely unable to move’.
The court heard he identified Stokes to police officers, who then arrested the cricketer.
PC Stacey Alway told the court how she was on duty with a colleague in a patrol car when they saw a man, Ali, lying in a carriageway with another person tending to him.
She said they stopped the car and spoke to the man, who was Mr Spure, and he told her that he had seen Stokes punch Ali to the floor and then pointed to a group of men stood on the other side of the road.
‘As I approached the group I could see the male wearing the green T-shirt, Mr Stokes, squaring up to the other males,’ PC Alway told jurors.
‘I didn’t know who these males were because I was unable to identify them. From the moment I approached him (Stokes) he calmed down and he was completely compliant with me.’
She confirmed she arrested Stokes on suspicion of assault and cautioned him. The footage taken from the camera she was wearing was played to the jury.
The court heard that PC Alway walked over to Stokes and told him: ‘A guy over there was covered in blood and I’ve been told you punched him.’
And Stokes replied: ‘Because he was abusing my two friends for being gay.’
The England cricketer (pictured today at Bristol Crown Court with his wife Clare) is said to have bullied two gay revellers, throwing a cigarette at one and making mocking gestures at them
Gordon Cole QC, defending Stokes, asked Pc Alway to confirm that his client was ‘calm and compliant’ with her when he was arrested.
‘He asked whether you could loosen the handcuff on his right hand? He said it was because it had been injured, not because of what happened but because he had three operations on it?’
England cricketer Ben Stokes and his wife Clare arrive at Bristol Crown Court today
The officer replied: ‘Yes, that is correct.’ Mr Cole asked: ‘You loosened the handcuff and he thanked you for it?’ She replied: ‘Yes.’
During the footage played to the court, Stokes can be heard asking PC Alway: ‘Is there going to be any sort of cameras around here?’
He said to the officer: ‘Have those two other guys gone? What about two other lads – gay guys?’
Teammate Alex Hales told PC Alway that he had not witnessed the alleged fight.’I came after you guys turned up,’ he told her.
When she told him to leave Stokes, who had been placed in a police vehicle, Mr Hales replied: ‘I feel bad. He’s my best friend. I saw him after everything happened.’
Pc Alway told Mr Hales that Stokes had money on him and so would be able to get home after being released from custody.
Mr Hales asked Stokes: ‘I don’t want to go. Are you sure? I turned up after the whole thing.’
PC Alway told the court that she did not take Mr Hales’s details. ‘He told me that he didn’t witness anything so I didn’t ask him,’ she said.
When in the police car, Stokes appears to mouth at Mr Hales something like ‘Come with me’ or ‘You’re with me’.
Stokes and his teammate Mr Hales were out celebrating the England cricket team’s victory over the West Indies in a one-day international in the city.
Detective Constable Daniel Adams, the case’s officer, told the jury that CCTV footage shows Mr Hales behind Stokes and Stokes approaching a retreating Ali.
‘From this point it is very difficult to identify who is involved,’ he said.
Hale is then shown collapsing to the floor outside a shop window but picking himself up after 20 seconds and disappearing from view and then returning.
‘Ryan Hale returns with what appears to be a metal pole with a T-bar on it, as described by (witness) Lauren Sweeney,’ the officer said.
He told the jury that it was ‘very difficult to tell’ in the CCTV what Hale was doing with the pole. ‘He is making his way back towards the melee carrying the bar,’ he said.
The England cricketer is accused of knocking out Ryan Hale (left), 27 and Ryan Ali (right), 28
Nicholas Corsellis, prosecuting, asked: ‘Do you see Ryan Hale put that implement down before he gets to the group?’ The officer replied: ‘No.’
Cameras belonging to Bristol City Council captured some of the aftermath of the alleged incident with police officers and an ambulance arriving at the scene.
Hale places his T-shirt under the head of Ali, who is lying on the ground, while off-duty special constable Mark Spure arrived.
Meanwhile, Stokes has been arrested and is sitting in the rear of a police car.
Mr Hales is with one of the attending police officers before making a telephone call and heading towards a taxi rank to get a taxi.
Earlier, the jury watched CCTV taken from outside the Lola Lo club in Bristol on September 25 last year, which shows Ali and Hale, with bottles of beer in their hands, walking up the road with gay revellers Kai Barry and William O’Connor.
Stokes and teammate Alex Hales were together (pictured on the night) after celebrating with the England cricket team, who had just beaten the West Indies in a one-day international
Stokes and Hales are seen catching up with them and overtaking them and then, the prosecution claim, Stokes can be seen turning to look back at Mr Barry and Ali.
Detective Constable Adams said: ‘Ryan Ali and Kai Barry appear to be having a disagreement. Mr Barry grabs Mr Ali around the groin area.’
The CCTV shows Mr Barry walk away from Ali but then return. DC Adams said: ‘Mr Barry appears to link arms with Mr Ali and is shrugged off and pushed away.’
Further CCTV from the Be At One bar was played to the court, which showed Stokes and Mr Hales in shot and then Ali, Hale, Mr O’Connor and Mr Barry coming into view.
The camera later records the police and an ambulance arriving at the scene. The jury then watched CCTV taken from the nearby NatWest Bank.
Detective Constable Adams told the jury: ‘Alex Hales crosses the road towards the direction of Natwest in the direction of STA Travel.
‘Ben Stokes is crossing the road from the same direction and meets Mr Hales. They are both looking back up Queen’s Road in the direction of Be At One and Lola Lo. Ben Stokes is smoking.’
A car is seen to slow down in the road and move to what the prosecution allege was the altercation taking place.
Yesterday, the court heard Stokes bullied the gay revellers, throwing a cigarette at one and making mocking gestures at them, after swearing at a nightclub bouncer.
Doorman Andrew Cunningham, 37, refused to allow Stokes back into the Mbargo club despite the player offering him £300 cash, a jury was told.
Mr Cunningham told the court that after he refused Stokes and Mr Hales re-entry to the club in the upmarket Clifton area, Stokes began to mock Mr O’Connor and Mr Barry, well-known locally for their flamboyant behaviour.
‘The ginger guy [Stokes] picked up on this and started to take the mick out of them,’ he told the jury of the incident on the night of September 24 last year, which was caught on CCTV.
‘He started to mimic their actions. He didn’t speak, he just made noises to sound like them because if you hear them speak they are quite high-pitched guys.
‘They are quite effeminate guys and their voices are different. He made noises to try to copy them, not saying anything, just making stupid noises. Just like hand gestures… camp gestures.’
Mr Cunningham said he did not step in until Stokes flicked a cigarette butt at the men. ‘I asked him, ‘If you are going to start on someone, start on me’,’ he said.
The bouncer, who has four gold front teeth and is heavily tattooed, also said Stokes had abused him earlier in the encounter.
‘The ginger one offered me £60 and asked me if that would get them in,’ he told the jury of six men and six women.
‘He had a conversation with his friend and he said ‘£300, get us in’ and I still told them no. I told them I would not have a job to go back to in the morning.
Stokes starred in the cricket last week (pictured) as England beat India at Edgbaston
‘He got a bit verbally abusive towards myself. He mentioned my gold teeth and he said I looked like a **** and I replied, ‘Thank you very much’.
‘I said they could call me what they liked, it still wouldn’t change the fact they weren’t getting in. They could swear, shout – I wouldn’t rise to it.
‘He mentioned my tattoos and how s*** they were. He just looked at me and told me my tattoos were s*** and to look at my job, which he obviously wasn’t happy about for keeping him out.’
When asked what sort of tone Stokes was using, Mr Cunningham replied: ‘Quite a spiteful tone, quite an angry tone.’
Stokes, 27, faces a single count of affray. He is standing trial alongside Hale, 27, and Ali, 28 – two men he allegedly knocked out in a brawl near the club.
Prosecutors allege trouble flared after England and Durham star Stokes and Mr Hales caught up with Ali, Hale, Mr O’Connor and Mr Barry on a nearby street.
The cricketer is accused of knocking out Hale and Ali. Ali allegedly threatened Mr Hales with a bottle, with Hale said to have picked up a metal pole from a street sign.
Stokes claims he was acting in self-defence and took action after Ali and Hale were homophobic towards Mr Barry and Mr O’Connor. But Nicholas Corsellis, prosecuting, said Stokes was instead acting with ‘revenge, retaliation or punishment in mind’.
The jury also heard allegations that Mr Hales kicked the prostrate Ali in the head.
Mr Hales was not arrested but interviewed under caution in connection with the fight. He was never charged.
The Nottinghamshire batsman, 29, had been credited by the prosecution with trying to calm the fight.
But when the jury were shown footage of the incident by Detective Constable Daniel Adams, Hale’s barrister Stephen Mooney asked him: ‘What I am going to suggest you see here is Alex Hales stamping down upon Ryan Ali at least twice. Does that accord with what you see?’
DC Adams replied: ‘Yes, a stamp or a kick.’ Mr Mooney said: ‘We have someone lying on the floor, Ryan Ali, and just above him, moving towards him is Mr Alex Hales. Would it be fair to describe that as Alex Hales kicking the man in the head?’
DC Adams replied: ‘That’s what it looks like, yes.’ Mr Mooney said: ‘Well, it isn’t what it looks like – it’s what it is.’ DC Adams replied: ‘Yes.’
Mr Mooney said: ‘Ryan Hale has just been in a situation with Mr Stokes and Mr Ali.
‘At the same time, Mr Hales has come in and used deliberate force with a shod foot, stamping down upon Ryan Ali to his body, then kicking him deliberately and in a considered fashion to his head? DC Adams replied: ‘He has definitely used his feet on three occasions.’
Stokes, of Castle Eden, County Durham, and Ali and Hale, both of Bristol, all deny affray. The trial continues.
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