England cricketer Ben Stokes has denied being “really very drunk” and “enraged” when he knocked unconscious two revellers near a nightclub, a court has heard.
The 27-year-old all-rounder insisted he had intervened to stop Ryan Ali, 28, and Ryan Hale, 27, from abusing gay men William O’Connor and Kai Barry.
And it turned violent when Stokes claimed Ali – who is on trial alongside him at Bristol Crown Court jointly accused of affray – told him to “F*** off or I’ll bottle you”.
Giving evidence for a second day, Stokes explained he had drunk a bottle of beer immediately after the one-day international win against the West Indies and then had two or three pints back at the hotel over dinner.
He then went into Bristol city centre with his England teammates and had five or six vodka and lemonades and “possibly” some Jaegerbombs.
After failing to be allowed back into the Mbargo nightclub as it was closing, Stokes and his teammate Alex Hales were heading to a casino when they got into the alleged fracas with the two revellers in the early hours of September 25 last year.
The cricketer explained that he could not remember punching Ali or his friend Mr Hale and said he intervened because they had directed homophobic abuse at the two gay men but was unable to say what those words were.
Nicholas Corsellis, prosecuting, suggested the reason he was having problems remembering exactly what happened that night was because he was “actually really very drunk”, which Stokes denied.
Mr Corsellis asked: “You don’t remember any of the words of the homophobic abuse that you assert took place.
“You don’t really remember significant parts of this incident, for example knocking Mr Ali out? Is that because you were really very drunk?
“Your lack of memory might be down to something else. You weren’t actually hit that evening, you weren’t struck to the head, you had no injury to the lip, forehead, eye or head?
“It is not a question of your memory being affected by injury, you were uninjured from the cricket match you played that day.
“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.
“He (Ali) was aggressive and violent towards me in what he said but he was definitely verbally aggressive with Mr Barry and Mr O’Connor.
“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.”
The cricketer told the court he had not mocked or been homophobic towards Mr Barry and Mr O’Connor outside Mbargo.
He said he could not remember flicking his cigarette butt at them or knocking Ali unconscious a short time later.
Stokes was asked about what Ali was doing in the moments before he knocked him out and he said he could not remember.
Mr 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.”
Mr Corsellis asked: “Were you enraged? However this incident started, when you saw Mr Ali had a bottle and that he was threatening to Alex Hales and hit Kai Barry on the shoulder, you decided to get involved and after you had been on the ground and he (Mr Ali) disarmed you thought, ‘I am going to show you what violence is’ and you thought, ‘I am going to retaliate and I am going to punish you and hit you out of revenge’. Is that not the truth?”
Stokes replied: “Absolutely not.”
Mr Corsellis asked: “Is it what we see on the footage – an angry man who has lost all control?”
Stokes replied again: “Absolutely not.”
Mr Corsellis asked Stokes if he had a “significant memory blackout” from the night in question.
Stokes replied: “You could say that, yes.”
Mr Corsellis suggested that Stokes’s eyes were “glazed” and his speech was slurred in the footage recorded by Pc Stacey Alway’s body camera when he was arrested, which the cricketer denied.
Stokes denied being out on a “mission” and said what he wanted that evening was a “good night” with his England teammates.
He also denied making derogatory comments about Mbargo doorman Andrew Cunningham’s gold teeth and tattoos.
Mr Corsellis suggested to Stokes that he had been angry, shouted and pointed at Mr Cunningham after the bouncer refused to shake his hand.
When the prosecutor asked what Stokes was 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?”
Stokes, of Stockton Road, Castle Eden, Durham, and Ali, of Forest Road, Bristol, each deny a charge of affray.
The trial continues.
- Press Association