England all-rounder Ben Stokes “lost his control” with a “sustained period of significant violence” during a brawl on September 25, 2017, Bristol Crown Court heard today.
The 27-year-old is alleged to have attacked two men outside a Bristol nightclub during a night out with national team-mate Alex Hales just hours after England played a one-day international against the West Indies. The incident left “onlookers shocked”, it was said.
The court heard that the fight included two other men, Ryan Hale, 27, and Ryan Aslam Ali, 28, who, along with Stokes, were charged with affray. Hale is alleged to have suffered a fractured eye-socket from the brawl, while Ali was knocked unconscious.
“How precisely it started is only known to the defendants,” said prosecutor Nicholas Corsellis. “The violence that erupted could actually have stopped very quickly and if it had, it would have remained a relatively minor incident. We would not be here.
“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. He knocked Mr. Hale unconscious and then, after enough time to pause for thought – to calm – he did exactly the same to Mr. Ali.”
The court heard that Stokes had been staying at a Bristol hotel that evening and had decided to go out with Hales. However, after Stokes was refused re-entry into the nightclub just after 2am, a fight soon followed an altercation between Ali and Hale.
“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,” continued the prosecutor. “It is with regret that these defendants are before you, for they are all young men of promise.
“Mr Stokes is a professional cricket player who has reached the top of his profession and has represented his country. Equally Mr Ali has worked for the emergency services and Mr Hale has served his country in the Armed Forces here and abroad.
“It almost goes without saying, but past success, fame or good deeds does not and cannot absolve you from your duty – and the law – to behave yourself. The law and the court obviously favour no person and judge everybody equally.”
The criminal trial is expected to last between five and seven days in courtroom one, which means Stokes, who starred during England’s first Test win over India, is likely to miss the second Test at Lord’s, starting Thursday.
In the unlikely outcome that the trial ends before Wednesday afternoon, it has been rumoured that the England selectors would consider rushing Stokes in for the second Test.
The 16 potential jurors of the trial were asked if they were “extremely committed” to either the England or India cricket teams. None of the jurors indicated having such commitment, as well as knowing any of the defendants or witnesses in the case.
All three defendants, Stokes, Hale, and Ali, have pleaded not guilty to affray.