Gay couple: Ben Stokes defended us from homophobic abuse
A gay couple have defended England cricketer Ben Stokes after he was found not guilty over a fight.
The sportsman was today found not guilty of affray after a brawl outside the Mbargo nightclub in September last year.
Stokes had faced charges over the scuffle with Ryan Hale and Ryan Ali.
He told the court he was defending gay couple Kai Barry and William O’Connor from a potential homophobic attack, but the prosecution claimed that Stokes was “making fun” of their “camp behaviour” and flicked his cigarette butt at them.
Following the conclusion of the trial, the couple have spoken out to defend Stokes.
Speaking to ITV, the pair defended his actions and thanked him for defending them.
Kai Barry said that the incident had begun because “someone came across the road and tried to hit me with a bottle.”
William O’Connor said: “[Stokes] could see the people doing what they were doing, and how homophobic they were and how nasty they came across.”
Barry added: “I thought he was just a normal lad, you know, sticking up for someone who was weaken than he was, which was quite nice.
“When I realised who he was, I thought fair place, ‘cos he’s obviously put his career at risk for someone that he never knew.”
O’Connor added: “We are really thankful for what he has done because Kai could have been left with a scar.”
Barry continued: “I’d say thank you, definitely, thank you for being there. Sorry about all the drama we landed you in but a lot of appreciation.”
Stokes was found not guilty of affray.
The sportsman had told 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.”
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.
“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.”