Ben Stokes has told his trial for punching two people in the street outside a nightclub that he was not shouting in anger at a bouncer moments before the alleged attack — and may in fact have been talking to God.
The 27-year-old England cricketer is accused of punching Ryan Hale, 27, and Ryan Ali, 28, during an alleged brawl in the Clifton Triangle area of Bristol on 25 September last year.
Stokes, an all-rounder who plays for Durham, is jointly accused of affray alongside Ali. 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.
Giving evidence for a second day, Stokes insisted footage recorded on CCTV outside the Mbargo nightspot did not show him shouting and pointing angrily at bouncer Andrew Cunningham after the doorman had refused him entry, then refused to shake his hand.
“I don’t think you can tell if I’m angry,” Stokes insisted under cross-examination.
Stokes claims he was ‘talking to God’ in CCTV footage
When Nicholas Corsellis, prosecuting, asked what Stokes had in fact been looking at, he said: “I might just be looking at the night sky.”
Mr Corsellis said: “Who were you speaking to when you were looking at the night sky?”
Stokes replied: “God?”
Mr Corsellis asked: “Mr Stokes, you are just in front of the jury, trying to cover up your actions. You know you were angry and this CCTV was you looking angry, isn’t it?”
Stokes answered: “No.”
He told the jury he would have had at least 10 drinks that night – a bottle of beer after the game, two or three pints back at the hotel with a meal and five or six vodka and lemonades while out in Bristol.
He said he “potentially had some Jaegerbombs” at the club, in addition to the beer and vodka.
The cricketer said he intervened because Ali and his friend, Ryan Hale, were directing homophobic abuse at two gay men, William O’Connor and Kai Barry, but he said he could not remember what the words were.
He told the court he had not mocked or been homophobic towards Mr Barry and Mr O’Connor and said he could not remember flicking his cigarette butt at them.
Stokes also denied making a comment about Mr Cunningham’s gold teeth, and said he told him: “Come on mate, I’ve got s*** tattoos as well.”
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 Plunkett and Jonny Bairstow – Teammates of Stokes
- Andrew Cunningham – Door supervisor at the Mbargo nightclub
- Mark Spure – Off-duty police community support officer who told court Stokes had been ‘main aggressor’