England cricket player Ben Stokes and his wife Clare Ratcliffe arrive at Bristol Crown Court. (Reuters)
England allrounder Ben Stokes on Friday was accused of lying to the jury over alleged homophobic abuse directed towards a gay couple on the night of his arrest outside a Bristol bar in September 2017, according to a report by Sky Sport. As per the report, the cricketer, who is facing a trial for affray charges, gave his full statement in front of the jury on Friday and denied he acted as “an angry man” who had “lost control”. Stokes’ defence was built around the claim that he was trying to defend the gay couple who were receiving “homophobic abuse” from Ryan Hale and Ryan Ali, who both were allegedly knocked unconscious by Stokes that night.
The 27-year old told the jury that he asked the two men to stop abuse on the gay couple, after which he decided to step in. He claimed he had “significant memory blackout” about exactly what the two were saying to the couple. All three men were charged with affray over the incident, but on Thursday judge Peter Blair directed the jury at Bristol Crown Court to find Hale not guilty.
Stokes admitted to having about at least 10 drinks on the night but insisted he was not drunk at the time of the incident. On suggestions from prosecutor Nicholas Corsellis that he had anger problems, the right-hand batsman insisted that he was acting out on self-defense.
During the cross-examination of Stokes, the court was shown with one clip in which Stokes was seen flicking a cigarette at the gay couple, William O’Connor and Kai Barry. Corsellis told Stokes that he was lying to the jury. “You are not telling the truth to this jury. You are lying to the jury about the cigarette. And about the mimicking and mocking (of Mr. O’Connor and Mr. Barry),” Corsellis said.
He further described him as “an angry man” who had “lost all control” and was “aggressive, demeaning and looking for a fight”, a claim which Stokes denied.
Ali, who was left with a red-eye after the altercation, told the court that he was just having a “banter” with a group of friends when Stokes charged towards him. “I recall we were in a group of four, having a laugh and having some banter and the next thing I remember is having a tall blonde man charging towards me,” Ali said.
He added that he and Ryan were “trying to retreat”. “At that point, I recall seeing Ryan to my righthand side, unconscious on the floor,” said Ali. He further added that Stokes was looking for a fight. “He was very angry and looking for someone to pick on,” Ali said. The trial will continue on Monday and the two lawyers will give their closing speeches.
Stokes was hailed as the “hero” for England by the media after his stunning spell saw the Three Lions beating India by 31 runs at Edgbaston in the thrilling first Test.
with the Express Morning Briefing