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Ben Stokes trial - as it happened: Judge sends jury to deliberate after cricketer's lawyer says Alex Hales may have caused injuries to punched man

Jury to deliberate verdict tomorrow

Harriet Agerholm
Tuesday 14 August 2018 10:12 BST
CCTV appears to show Ben Stokes mocking and throwing cigarette at gay man outside Bristol nightclub

England cricketer Ben Stokes’s trial entered its second week on Monday, with the prosecution and defence making their closing arguments.

The 27-year-old all-rounder is accused of punching Ryan Hale, 27, and Ryan Ali, 28, during an alleged brawl outside a nightclub in Bristol on 25 September last year.

Last week the court heard Mr Stokes mocked two gay men by “mimicking this voices and mannerisms in a derogatory manner”, before a fight broke out.

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

Who is who

  • Ben Stokes – Cricketer accused of punching Ryan Hale and Ryan Ali
  • Ryan Ali – Jointly accused of affray alongside Stokes
  • Ryan Hale – Acquitted of affray
  • Kai Barry and William O’Connor – Gay couple who Stokes insists he stepped in to protect
  • James Anderson, Jake Ball and Alex Hales, Liam Plunkettand Jonny Bairstow- Teammates of Stokes
  • Andrew Cunningham – Door supervisor at the Mbargonightclub
  • Mark Spure- Off-duty police community support officer who told court Stokes had been ‘main aggressor’

But Mr Stokes denied ridiculing the gay couple, 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, claiming Mr Ali held the neck of an upturned bottle in his hand and began “waving it around”.

Mr Ali, who suffered a broken eye-socket in the alleged fracas, said he was defending himself and claimed Mr Stokes was “very angry and looking for someone to pick on” on the night of the incident.

Mr Stokes is jointly accused of affray alongside Mr Ali. They both deny the charge.

Mr Hale was acquitted of the same charge by the jury of six men and six women on the direction of the judge on Thursday.

The court heard on Monday from Nicholas Corsellis, prosecuting; Gordon Cole QC, defending Mr Stokes; and Anna Midgley, defending Mr Ali.

Judge Peter Blair QC then summed up the case and sent the jury home, saying they would be asked to deliberate the verdict on Tuesday at 10am.

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Prosecution claims Stokes 'quickly turned aggressor'

Mr Corsellis has told the jury the Crown conceded Mr Stokes was acting defensively at the beginning of the alleged fight, but claimed he “quickly turned aggressor”.

Making the prosecution’s closing statements, he also questioned why Mr Stokes could not recall details about the homophobic abuse he alleges the gay couple were receiving.

He said he accepted Mr Stokes was working “to defend himself or in defence of another” at the point when Mr Ali held the upturned bottle.

But he added: “Even if Mr Stokes has begun using self-defence, he very, very quickly after this became the aggressor, with Mr Hale trying to pacify him together with Mr Ali.

“He was pursuing them into the road, repeatedly punching at them at least six times, with his teammate Alex Hales calling him away 'Stokes... Stokes... stop... stop...', indeed being pulled away twice and on the second time being turned on by Ben Stokes."

Mr Corsellis said the alleged fight involved several people, lots of shouting and violence, which resulted in two people being knocked unconscious.

“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.

“There are aspects of Mr Stokes's case that he has zero recollection of. The cigarette butt, homophobic abuse, the attack on Mr Ali.

“He says he can't say or is it won't say because of what the truth is?”

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.

Harriet Agerholm13 August 2018 11:39

Defence lawyer says team mate Hales could have caused injuries

Mr Cole said it was possible Mr Stokes's England team mate Alex Hales could have inflicted some of the injuries caused during the alleged brawl.

The defence lawyer also used his closing argument to ask the jury to consider whether Mr Stokes was being focused on because of his high profile and express concern about the effect of the media on the trial.

Asking the jury to watch all the CCTV in the case closely, Mr Cole said: "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."

Mr Hales was never charged in relation to the alleged brawl.

The QC continued: "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?"

Earlier in his closing argument, Mr Cole asked: “Is this man getting special treatment because of who he is? Is this man being focused on because of who he is?”

“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.

”But the important trial is going on inside of this court.

Mr Cole continued: “I think I am beginning to defend the press ... it is impossible to actually describe every nuance, every single bit of evidence, every inference that you are being asked to consider.

“It is difficult to report every detail. The important trial is the trial that is going on in here.”

The defence lawyer suggested there has been a “great deal of rowing back” by the prosecution since the trial began last week and that two of Mr Corsellis's comments in his closing speech left him “massively alarmed”.

Earlier, the prosecution said it did not know what was happening at the start and at the end of the incident.

“If that is the prosecution saying they don't know how, how are you supposed to fill in the gaps?” Mr Cole asked.

He suggested there was evidence to support the view that Mr Hale returned to the scene with the metal pole and that seconds before Mr Stokes knocked out Mr Ali, Mr Ali was about to jump on his back.

“We would say there is evidence to support that happening. Have they proved to you this man was not acting in self-defence?” Mr Coles said.

“When I heard those remarks I was alarmed and we invite you to use your common sense. You are entitled to think about what questions you are left to answer.

“The prosecution are saying they don't know and we saying they ought to.”

Harriet Agerholm13 August 2018 12:48
Harriet Agerholm13 August 2018 15:35

Co-accused’s lawyer says he feels ‘regret’ 

A defence lawyer for Mr Ali has said watching footage of him wielding a bottle during the alleged brawl made him feel “regret”, but the video did not prove he had committed a crime.

Anna Midgley used her closing argument to ask the jury to consider whether Mr Ali tried to severely hurt anyone.

“Of course, watching himself brandishing a bottle makes him feel regret and embarrassment, let alone when the world is watching," she said,

“But regret for how he behaved is a different question as to whether he has committed a criminal offence.”

Ms Midgley said her client's use of the bottle was captured on just five seconds of footage filmed by student Max Wilson from his bedroom window.

She insisted that Ali, who works for the emergency services, acted in response to a threat when he brandished the beer bottle he was holding.

“He was drinking from it,” she told the jury.

“He didn't arm himself but there came a time when he used it because he was threatened.”

Ms Midgley told the jury that Ryan Hale had been acquitted of affray, despite bringing a metal bar to the scene.

Referring to Mr Hale and Mr Hales, she told the jury: “There's no special law that says bottles are not allowed but iron bars and kicking with your feet is.”

She questioned whether Mr Ali had made a “determined effort” to make contact with the bottle, and said he had not smashed it before doing so.

“Does he really whack people with the bottle?” she asked, adding that the bottle did not smash on impact with Mr Barry's shoulder.

Mr Ali had not been aware that it was Mr Barry who reached across him, she said.

Ms Midgley said there may have been a “misunderstanding” that caused violence to erupt between Mr Stokes, Mr Ali, Mr Hale and Mr Hales.

“The prosecution says they don't know how the incident started,” she told the jury.

“We don't have footage of the start of the incident. You can't disprove the position that what Ryan Ali says is correct, that he was responding to a threat from others.

“The evidence that you have, I say, makes it likely that his case is right.”

Harriet Agerholm13 August 2018 15:57

Jury sent home

The jury will begin their deliberations at 10am tomorrow, Judge Peter Blair QC said. After summing up the evidence in the case he sent them home for the night.

Harriet Agerholm13 August 2018 16:13

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