England cricketer Ben Stokes was enveloped in a “red mist” on the night he allegedly knocked two men unconscious outside a nightclub in Bristol, a court has heard.
The 27-year-old all-rounder had previously told a jury he had intervened when he heard the men being homophobic to two gay clubbers.
But during closing speeches on the sixth day of the trial at Bristol Crown Court, prosecutor Nicholas Corsellis said Stokes had been rude to Mbargo doorman Andrew Cunningham and was clearly seen looking down his nose and pointing at him.
“To say that he was looking at the night sky, talking to someone more powerful than Mr Cunningham was, I’m afraid, not true,” he told the jury
“In a world and in a way, he has distanced from the admirable career he has. He acted deplorably as the red mist came down and struck with such force that he rendered one person unconscious.
“But it went on from there, notwithstanding the opportunity to calm down, it continued. It is minutes later, in fact one minute and 30 seconds later, that Mr Ali is struck.
Stokes and Ryan Ali, 28, who is one of the men the cricketer is alleged to have knocked out, each deny a charge of affray.
The jury was directed to acquit Hale on Thursday.
“This was a pursued course of retaliation from Mr Stokes.”
Corsellis admitted that Stokes may well have been acting “to defend himself or in defence of another”, when Ali was seen on CCTV holding a bottle in his hand, but then “quickly turned aggressor”.
“Mr Stokes left Mbargo enraged,” he said, disputing Stokes’ assertions that he had been neither drunk nor angry on the night of the alleged attack.
He also poured scorn on the cricketer’s claims he had been defending two men from being abused, pointing out that Stokes’ told the court he could not recall throwing a cigarette at one of the gay men he was allegedly protecting, nor the attack on Ali.
“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?”
Corsellis asked the jury to put themselves in the position of being on the Clifton Triangle at 2.30am watching the fight unfold in front of their eyes.
“Would you be quite scared?” he asked.
“This case has a certain subtlety to it which is that we don’t know for sure exactly how this all started.
“The best evidence is from Max Wilson, who hears what he hears over a period of minutes, looking out of the window before he starts filming and his impression was that they were clearly all drunk, they were acting like football hooligans and they were building up to a fight.
“Someone shoved someone and it developed into violence.
“If this incident had remained to this extent, everybody had had the maturity to step back and calm down, we wouldn’t be here.”
Gordon Cole QC, defending Stokes, suggested there has been a “great deal of rowing back” by the prosecution since the trial began last week.
“Is this man getting special treatment because of who he is?” Cole asked. “Is this man being focused on because of who he is?”
He asked the jury to consider all the CCTV footage in the case very closely – including the role of Stokes’s international teammate Alex Hales who was also present during the incident.
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.
“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?”
Cole went on: “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.
“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.”