Was it the broken bottle or the street sign that upped the Stokes in brawl?
A prosecutor has said that the fracas involving cricketer Ben Stokes was not a trivial moment of unpleasantness
England international cricketer Ben Stokes mocked two “flamboyant” gay men in a “derogatory way” and flicked the butt of his cigarette at them before he “lost his control” during a “sustained episode of significant violence”, a court heard on Monday.
The England star allegedly made “fun” of the two revellers’ “camp behaviour”, impersonating their hand movements, as he rowed with a bouncer over re-entry to a Bristol nightclub, prosecutors claimed as they opened their case.
Stokes, one of the world’s best all-rounders, also insulted a doorman’s tattoos and teeth in a foul-mouthed rant as he became “aggressive” and “obviously upset” after his offer of £300 (R5,200) to get back into Mbargo Club in Bristol’s Clifton Triangle area was refused.“Look at the state of your teeth ... they make you look like a c***,” the doorman alleges Stokes said. After Stokes flicked his cigarette, his England teammate Alex Hales is said to have intervened, saying: “Stokesy, don’t do that.”
The prosecution claimed to jurors in the Bristol Crown Court on Monday that his behaviour set the tone for the brawl that ensued.
Prosecutor Nicholas Corsellis said Stokes “lost his control” in a “sustained episode of significant violence” during the late-night brawl.One man was knocked unconscious and another suffered a fractured eye socket during the fight with Stokes which left “onlookers shocked” outside a Bristol nightclub.
Jurors called for the week-long affray trial were told how Stokes had reached “the top of his profession” as one of the best all-rounders in the game.
But prosecutor Nicholas Corsellis told the panel: “Past success, fame or good deeds do not absolve you from your duty – and the law – to behave yourself.”
He added: “This was not a trivial moment of unpleasantness. It was a sustained episode of significant violence that left onlookers shocked at what was taking place.“A bottle was used at the beginning and a broken street sign brought into the fray towards the end.”
The two other defendants, Ryan Ali, 29, and Ryan Hale, 27, are jointly charged with Stokes of affray in the Clifton Triangle area of Bristol on September 25 last year – several hours after England played a one-day international against the West Indies.
Hale allegedly suffered a fractured eye socket in the incident, at which fellow England cricketer Alex Hales was also present. Stokes missed the Ashes after being suspended from playing for England.Stokes was driven to the city’s Crown Court in a silver people carrier and walked straight into the building flanked by the media.
The charge he faces states that their “conduct was such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his personal safety”, contrary to section 3(1) and (7) of the Public Order Act 1986.
Prosecutor Corsellis told the jury of six men and six women: “In the early hours of the morning of Monday September 25 2017, a fight took place between these three defendants in central Bristol in the area known as the Clifton Triangle.
“They were, the Crown say, all involved in threatening and/or using unlawful violence towards each other. Some participated to a greater extent than others as you will see.”Corsellis told the court that all the defendants had been drinking that night and had been at the Mbargo nightclub, with the alleged incident taking place after the club closed after 2am.
“The violence that erupted could actually have stopped very quickly and it would have remained a relatively minor incident,” Corsellis said.
“But during the incident Mr Stokes lost his control and started to attack with revenge, retaliation or punishment in mind. Well beyond acting in self defence or defence of another.
“He knocked Mr Hale unconscious and then – after time to pause for thought, to calm – he did exactly the same to Mr Ali.“Ali received significant injuries included a fractured eye socket and required hospital treatment.
“It is with regret that these defendants are before you, for they are all young men of promise. The defendant, Ben Stokes, is a professional cricket player who has reached the top of his profession and represented his country.
“Equally, Mr Ali has worked for the emergency services and Mr Hale has served his country in the armed forces.”
Stokes missed the Ashes after being suspended from playing for England. Without him, England lost the Ashes to Australia 4-0.He has since played in the Test series against New Zealand, Pakistan and last week starring as England beat India at Edgbaston.
The trial is expected to run to at least the end of the week, but the England and Wales Cricket Board’s selectors will be hoping it finishes early in order for him to be able to face India in the second Test at Lord’s, which starts on Thursday.
Realistically, with his team-mates in camp preparing for battle with the number-one ranked Test team in the world, selectors will have until Wednesday afternoon to decide whether or not Stokes will play any part in the game.
Potential jurors were asked by a judge whether they were “extremely committed” cricket fans following either the England or India teams. None of 16 jurors in waiting indicated they were.
– © The Daily Telegraph