Cricketer 'stepped in' to defend gay men, court told in brawl trial

Ben Stokes arrives at Bristol Crown Court ahead of day four of trial

The footage, taken from a police bodycam was shown to the jury at Bristol Crown Court on Wednesday.

Hale, 28, was formally found not guilty and invited to leave the dock.

Due to the ongoing trial, the all-rounder will not play in the second Test at Lord's, which begins on Thursday night (AEDT).

Stokes, who plays for Durham, is standing trial at Bristol Crown Court jointly accused of affray alongside Ali.

Stokes, of Stockton Road, Castle Eden, Durham and Ali, of Forest Road, Bristol each deny a charge of affray. After the meal, Stokes and other England players took taxis into Bristol city centre and went to the Mbargo nightclub in Clifton Triangle.

Kai Barry and William O'Connor - the two gay men he claimed he was defending - thanked Stokes for "preventing them from being beaten up", he told police.

Mr Ali and Mr Hale have also pleaded not guilty to affray and are on trial alongside the cricketer.

Stokes, jurors heard, told police in a statement that he felt forced to defend himself because it was "two on to one" in the brawl with Ali and Hale.

"It's the emotions of it all", he added. They could attack me at any time if I turned my back on them. Watching the video was shocking.

"I said to him, "Come on mate, I've got shit tattoos as well, let us back in", he told the court.

"I was trying to stop Mr Ali from doing damage to anyone with a glass bottle". You hear about it all the time, he could have. "I didn't feel I had an option to leave in the heat of the situation".

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The prosecution has said Stokes first knocked out Hale, then 27-year-old Ali. I don't remember which order it was in.

He said: "I remember taking a swing at Mr Ali".

"Laid out on the floor. I saw him after everything happened".

Hale told police that a month before the incident he had suffered a mini-stroke - caused by an undiagnosed hole in the heart - that had affected his short-term memory. He said Just because I m gay doesn t mean I m going home with any other bloke. "From the movement on the video, I am not acting like a drunk idiot", he said. Mr Barry grabs Mr Ali around the groin area. He claimed one of the men he met in Mbargo nightclub "put his hand on my nob" and later "pinched my arse". "I'm an ex-soldier, to me it's banter", he said. "It did not offend me at all".

"I felt I was going to be attacked". I wasn't going to let them have any opportunity to do that. I just remember them crossing the road and there was a commotion. I would say I did connect, yes.

"I did throw a punch at Ali", Stokes said. I didn't know who that was.

"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. He is having a go at Ryan and I am trying to stop any fight, to stop him getting hurt.

"As I approached the group I could see the male wearing the green T-shirt, Mr Stokes, squaring up to the other males", she told jurors.

"They were kicking him in the face", he told officers during the interview, in which he had been cautioned but not arrested. I stepped in. [I said] "You shouldn't take the piss because they are gay".

Hale said O'Connor and Barry pulled him to help him up.

Hale said of Stokes: "There s no self-defence and he isn t defending anyone else". When asked by Gordon Cole QC whether he was being homophobic, Stokes replied: "Definitely not".

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