A couple from Bristol have insisted England cricketer Ben Stokes, who was arrested and charged with affray following a brawl in Bristol, “didn’t deserve being put through a trial,” following his acquittal.
Kai Barry, and William O'Connell met the 27-year-old sportsman and his England team-mate Alex Hales at the Mbargo nightclub in Clifton Triangle in the city centre in the early hours of 25 September last year.
The pair said Mr Stokes came to their aid after they were called “batty boys”- a homophobic slur.
Recalling the incident that led to the brawl, Mr Barry told ITV: “Someone came across the road and tried to hit me with a bottle.
Mr O’Connell added: “He [Mr Stokes] could see the people doing what they were doing and how homophobic they were and how nasty they came across.”
Mr Stokes was arrested at around 2am after the fight in which he punched Ryan Hale, 27, to the ground and then knocked out Ryan Ali, 28.
During a seven-day trial Mr Stokes told the court that he was acting in self-defence.
Mr Barry and Mr O’Connell said they were “really thankful” the cricketer had put his career at risk after realising that they were in danger.
“I thought he was just a normal lad, you know sticking up for someone that was obviously weaker, which was quite nice.
“When I realise who he was, I thought fair play, because he’s obviously put his career at risk for someone that he never knew.”
The pair also apologised for all the “drama” since the incident.
Mr Barry and Mr O’Connell previously hailed the all-rounder a “hero” saying they didn’t know what would have happened had be not got involved.
“He was a real hero. Kai feared he could be attacked. If Ben hadn't intervened it could have been a lot worse," Mr O'Connell told The Sun in October 2017.
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