NEWS
10/08/2018 13:32 BST | Updated 10/08/2018 16:47 BST

Ben Stokes Tells Affray Jury: 'I Wasn’t Angry And Drunk I Was Talking To God'

'I recall I potentially had some Jaegerbombs.'

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Court artist sketch of Ben Stokes being questioned by Gordon Cole QC, in the stand at Bristol Crown Court

England cricketer Ben Stokes has denied being “angry and out of control” on the night he is alleged to have knocked out a man during a brawl outside a nightclub.

The 27-year-old instead suggested to the jury at Bristol Crown Court on Friday that CCTV footage may have captured him talking to God.

The all-rounder is accused of affray in the Clifton Triangle area of Bristol during the early hours of 25 September last year.

He is on trial alongside Ryan Ali, 28, who Stokes is alleged to have knocked out during the fracas near the Mbargo nightclub. Co-accused Ryan Hale, 27, was acquitted on Thursday.

Stokes and Ali deny a joint charge of affray.

Speaking in court, Stokes said: “I recall I potentially had some Jaegerbombs in Mbargo.”

Nicholas Corsellis, prosecuting, suggested to Stokes the reason he was having problems remembering exactly what happened that night was because he was “actually really very drunk”.

Stokes replied: “No.”

Under cross-examination, Stokes said that he intervened because Ali and his friend Hale had directed homophobic abuse at two gay men, but could not recall what those words were.

Corsellis asked: “You don’t remember any of the words of the homophobic abuse that you assert took place.”

Stokes replied: “I am very clear that the words that were used were homophobic.”

The prosecutor said: “You don’t really remember significant parts of this incident, for example knocking Mr Ali out? Is that because you were really very drunk?”

Stokes replied: “No.”

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CCTV footage of Stokes outside Mbargo nightclub 

The prosecutor went on: “You didn’t suffer from memory loss problems, so how can you not remember striking Mr Ali with such force rendering him unconscious?”

Stokes replied: “I think the whole incident would have been clouded because it was such… there was a lot of people around… a lot of shouting.

“I don’t remember every little detail which has gone on that night.”

The cricketer told the court he had not mocked or been homophobic towards Kai Barry and William O’Connor and that he could not remember flicking his cigarette butt at them.

Stokes insisted Ali was aggressive and homophobic towards O’Connor and Barry. He added: “It’s clearly in my statement that I admit to throwing multiple punches. At the time of that situation, I constantly felt under threat from Mr Ali.”

Corsellis asked: “Is it because you are hiding behind your lack of recollection because you know full well you carried out a retaliatory attack upon those two men, first Mr Hale and then Mr Ali?”

Stokes replied: “No, all my actions were in self-defence and fearing for my safety.”

Corsellis asked Stokes if he had a “significant memory blackout” from the night in question. Stokes replied: “You could say that, yes.”

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Ryan Ali denies affray 

Corsellis suggested that Stokes’s eyes were “glazed” and his speech was slurred in the footage recorded on a body camera worn by a police officer when he was arrested, which the cricketer denied.

Stokes also denied making a comment about doorman Andrew Cunningham’s gold teeth. 

The footage recorded on the CCTV camera outside Mbargo was played to Stokes. Corsellis suggested to Stokes that he had been angry, shouted and pointed at Cunningham after the bouncer refused to shake his hand.

“I don’t think you can tell if I’m angry,” Stokes replied.

When the prosecutor asked what Stokes was looking at, he said: “I might just be looking at the night sky.”

Corsellis said: “Who were you speaking to when you were looking at the night sky?”

Stokes replied: “God?”

Stokes insisted Ali told him to “Shut the fuck up or I’ll bottle you” after he told him to stop verbally abusing the men. The cricketer completed giving his evidence on Friday afternoon. 

Ali then took the stand to tell jurors of the “banter” between him and Hale and the gay men as they walked away from the nightclub. 

“I remember at some stage walking down that street, someone saying ‘We are going home with them tonight’... We were having a good laugh,” Ali said.

“Then someone else said ‘No you’re not’ or words to that effect but they got quite irate when they said it.

“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 told the court he then began walking backwards in the road with his palms open, saying “I don’t want no trouble” and that he tried to “calm” Stokes, who had turned his attention to Hale, who was now lying on the floor unconscious.

He said: “I saw that as an opportunity to try to restrain Mr Stokes from attacking my friend, who couldn’t defend himself. As Mr Stokes’s back was turned away from me, I saw that as an opportunity to get behind him.

“I used my right arm around his neck and my left arm to grab his left hand so I could pull him against me to try to restrain him.”

Anna Midgley, representing Ali, asked him why – as captured on the CCTV – he moves towards Stokes’ teammate Alex Hales with the bottle and then takes a swing at Barry.

“I believe it would be a difficult decision for me to take, to turn a bottle into an offensive weapon,” Ali replied.

When asked why Stokes ran at him, Ali replied: “I have no idea. I can get my own perception from watching the evidence. All the CCTV put together… I have my own idea… he was very angry and looking for someone to pick on.”

The defendant, who claims to suffer double vision and remains under the care of a maxillofacial surgeon, said he did not remember swinging the bottle at Barry.

The trial will continue on Monday where the jury will hear closing speeches from the advocates before Judge Peter Blair QC begins to sum up the case.