Ben Stokes has been found not guilty of affray
England cricketer Ben Stokes has been found not guilty of affray.
The globally renowned sportsman was charged after becoming involved with a violent street fight in the early hours of September 25 outside a Bristol club.
He was accused of punching former serviceman Ryan Hale, 27, to the ground, before knocking out firefighter Ryan Ali, 28, during the brawl, which also involved his teammate Alex Hales.
Stokes told Bristol Crown Court last week that he was defending a gay couple from a potential homophobic attack.
The jury found the 27-year-old cricketer not guilty today (August 14), and also found Ali not guilty of the same charge.
The two men shook hands as they exited the dock, according to BBC News.
The prosecution had said Stokes was “making fun” of gay couple Kai Barry and William O’Connor for their “camp behaviour”, impersonating their hand movements, before he flicked his cigarette butt at them.
The sports star denied that he had acted in a homophobic fashion, telling the court: “These men were speaking to the gay guys in what I would call a harsh and abusive way.
“It was homophobic in nature. It wasn’t at all like banter.”
He said he was moved to intervene in the situation, telling Ali and Hale to “leave it out – you shouldn’t be taking the piss because they’re gay”.
Ali responded: “Shut the f**k up and f**k off or I’ll bottle you,” Stokes said.
Stokes continued: “Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale were taller and broader than Kai and William.
“I noticed that they both had glass bottles in their hands.”
Stokes told police that this led him to think he was in danger of being assaulted.
He said he and Ali then “scuffled,” adding: “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.”
CCTV footage shows the fight developing, but while off-duty police officer Mark Spure told the court he immediately identified Stokes as the “main aggressor,” the former England vice-captain said he was acting in self-defence.
“They were complete strangers,” Stokes continued.
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“We knew that they were prepared to use weapons that could do serious injury and I feared they could have other weapons with them.
“The force I used in defending us was reasonable and entirely justified when the circumstances are viewed objectively,” he added.
In a video seen by the jury, body camera footage from arresting officer PC Stacey Allway showed Stokes handcuffed in a police vehicle, being told: “You’re being arrested because of the man in the red with the blood.”
Stokes responded: “He was abusing my two friends for being gay.”