Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Bodycam footage released of England cricketer Ben Stokes arrest

Ben Stokes trial: Cricketer identified as England international Ben Stokes says he was defending gay couple in brutal fight
Andrew Wong | 10 August, 2018, 04:56

England cricketer Ben Stokes has told a jury he stepped in after hearing two revellers shout homophobic abuse at two gay men.

It follows an alleged fracas near the Mbargo nightclub in the Clifton Triangle area of Bristol shortly after 2am on September 25 a year ago, hours after England had played the West Indies in a one-day global in the city.

The all-rounder, who plays for Durham, is standing trial at Bristol Crown Court jointly accused of affray alongside Ali.

Blair told the jury: "I am directing you to find him not guilty in my analysis of the evidence". I wasn't going to let them do that. I stepped in. [I said] "You shouldn't take the piss because they are gay".

Ali responded: "Shut the f**k up and f**k off or I'll bottle you", Stokes said. As soon as I'd seen Mr Ali swing the bottle and physically hit them, I took the decision that I needed to get involved.

He said that as they walked up the road after leaving Mbargo there had been "banter" between him and Ali and O'Connor and Barry.

"These men were speaking to the gay guys in what I would call a harsh and abusive way", Stokes told officers in a later statement.

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"We knew that they were prepared to use weapons that could do serious injury and I feared they could have other weapons with them".

Giving evidence, Mr Stokes confirmed he was in Bristol at the time of the incident, having been playing for England.

CCTV footage shows the fight developing, but while off-duty police officer Mark Spure told the court he immediately identified Stokes as the "main aggressor", the former England vice-captain said he was acting in self-defence.

He said after the match he would have had a beer at the ground before driving back to the team hotel for a meal with his wife Clare and other players and partners where he would have drunk two or three pints of lager.

The incident happened after Stokes and England team-mate Alex Hales were denied entry into the Mbargo nightclub by bouncer Andrew Cunningham because it was after 2am.

Stokes said the cricketers offered Cunningham around PS60 or PS70 ($104 or $120) to get them into the club, which was turned down.

"I am constantly getting told by teammates and by who I play with that I have got shit tattoos".

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Stokes said he had been wearing black ripped jeans, a green T-shirt and white Buscemi high-top shoes with gold padlocks on the back.

Hale said that initially he thought Stokes had targeted him first but the video shows the cricketer going for his friend, Ali.

He told the jury that he did not know whether Mr Bairstow and Mr Plunkett would still be inside.

In the video, a policewoman can be heard explaining to Stokes why he has been detained by police as they attempt to solve the matter.

Judge Peter Blair QC, the Recorder of Bristol, ruled that there was insufficient evidence against Mr Hale, 27, to proceed with the case.

Stokes denied mimicking Mr Barry or Mr O'Connor, or mocking them, and insisted the only comments between them were about clothing.

On Monday, footage was shown that the prosecution said depicted Stokes mocking Barry and O'Connor, who were described as a "flamboyant, extrovert and openly gay young couple".

Huge Indonesia natural disaster rocks Lombok island
It was also felt strongly in the neighbouring Bali , a predominantly Hindu island in the world's largest Muslim majority nation. Another was American model and television presenter Chrissy Teigen who posted a series of brief updates on her Twitter profile.

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