Ben Stokes lawyer says England team mate Alex Hales may have caused injuries to punched man

QC asks jury to look at footage apparently showing Hales kicking Ryan Ali

Harriet Agerholm
Monday 13 August 2018 21:15 BST
England cricketer Ben Stokes and his wife Clare leave Bristol Crown Court as the trial broke for the day
England cricketer Ben Stokes and his wife Clare leave Bristol Crown Court as the trial broke for the day

England cricketer Alex Hales could have contributed to the injuries of a man who was later knocked unconscious by team-mate Ben Stokes, a court has heard.

Mr Stokes is accused of punching Ryan Hale, 27, and Ryan Ali, 28, during an alleged brawl outside a nightclub in Bristol.

Mr Stokes is jointly charged with affray alongside Mr Ali. They both deny the allegation, claiming self defence.

Although Mr Hales was questioned under caution with the incident, he was not arrested or charged.

The precise start to the violence is unclear, but Mr Ali swung a beer bottle at Mr Hales, Bristol Crown Court heard .

Mr Ali then delivered a blow to the shoulder of Kai Barry, a gay man out with a friend in the Clifton Triangle area of Bristol in the early hours of 25 September last year.

Mr Stokes is accused of knocking Mr Ali to the floor, with fellow cricketer Mr Hales then apparently kicking his head and stamping on him as he lay on the ground.

The all-rounder is said to have knocked Mr Hale unconscious before doing the same to Mr Ali a short time later.

Mr Ali suffered a broken eye socket, fractured tooth, cut above his eyebrow and bruising to his face.

Gordon Cole QC, representing Stokes, questioned whether his client had caused all of the injuries sustained by Mr Ali, given Mr Hales’ alleged involvement.

He asked the jury to carefully consider all the footage in the case.

Ben Stokes arrest footage released by police

“This is not part of me seeking to blame someone else,” he told the jury in his closing argument.

“You saw the footage. You will remember when Mr Stephen Mooney [barrister for Mr Hale] was here that he made reference to Alex Hales coming into the fray.

“You will see Mr Hales on one occasion appearing to kick.

“So, when the prosecution seeks to hang all the blame at Ben Stokes’s door by saying he rendered people unconscious, just look at what happened.

“Think about kicks and stamps. There’s no evidence before you – and I’m not suggesting for one minute that you should guess – but you can infer from what you know of injuries that were sustained.

“Sustained perhaps by Alex Hales’s intervention? Blows, kicks and or stamps to the head area.

“Does it follow that all of these injuries are properly attributed to Ben Stokes? We say no. We say that the evidence is ambiguous. We say how do you resolve that?“

Last week, the jury acquitted Mr Hale of the charge after Judge Peter Blair QC, the Recorder of Bristol, ruled there was insufficient evidence against him.

“It is not part of my job to prosecute Mr Hale, or Alex Hales. That is common sense. But it’s where we are now,” Mr Cole said.

The jury of six men and six women were told Stokes and Mr Hales went to the Mbargo nightclub in Bristol, where they had been drinking earlier in the evening.

Mr Stokes is accused of mocking two gay men by “mimicking this voices and mannerisms in a derogatory manner”, before the alleged fight broke out.

Prosecutor Nicholas Corsellis QC last week said the cricketer “lost control” and began a “sustained episode of violence, which left onlookers shocked”.

But Mr Stokes denied ridiculing the pair, saying he was defending them against homophobic abuse and claiming they thanked him for protecting them.

The sportsman also said he was fearful of being attacked with a weapon, since Mr Ali held the neck of an upturned bottle in his hand and began “waving it around”.

Earlier in his closing argument, Mr Cole asked the jury to consider whether Mr Stokes was being focused on during the trial because of his high profile. He also expressed concerns about the effect of media reports on proceedings.

“Is this man getting special treatment because of who he is? Is this man being focused on because of who he is?” he questioned.

“The fact is that, so far as publicity is concerned, I have no idea whether you have seen anything on the news.

“I have no idea that when, about a year ago, this first hit the papers and The Sun footage was shown, I have no idea whether any of you – I suspect most people in the country probably saw it.

“I’m very concerned that everything said in evidence is being rehearsed in the news. National news, local news.

“It is very, very difficult to avoid that. There’s almost one trial going on outside of this court.”

Nicholas Corsellis, prosecuting, told the jury that the case was focused on Mr Stokes as there was more evidence relating to him.

CCTV appears to show Ben Stokes mocking and throwing cigarette at gay man outside Bristol nightclub

CCTV appears to show Ben Stokes mocking a gay man and throwing a cigarette at him outside the Bristol nightclub.

“I’m not targeting him at all,” he told the jury.

“I seek to deal with both defendants as fairly as possible but more of the evidence focuses on Mr Stokes.”

Mr Corsellis used his closing argument to say the Crown conceded Mr Stokes was acting defensively at the beginning of the alleged fight, but claimed he “quickly turned aggressor”.

He also questioned why Mr Stokes could not recall details about the homophobic abuse he alleges the gay couple were receiving.

“Is this a case of nasty homophobic abuse being thrown? If so, please tell us the details of what was said. No recollection,” he said.

Mr Corsellis asked the jury to put themselves in the position of being on the Clifton Triangle at 2.30am watching the fight unfold.

“Would you be quite scared?” he asked.

The jury will begin their deliberations at 10am on Tuesday.

Press Association contributed to his report

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