Ben Stokes was main aggressor in alleged fight, witness tells court

Ben Stokes. Picture: PA.
Ben Stokes. Picture: PA.

England cricketer Ben Stokes was the "main aggressor" in a fight that took place near a nightclub, an onlooker told a court.

The 27-year-old all-rounder is accused of affray in the Clifton Triangle area of Bristol during the early hours of September 25 last year.

Ryan Ali (right) and Ryan Hale. Picture: PA.

Ryan Ali (right) and Ryan Hale. Picture: PA.

He is alleged to have offered doorman Andrew Cunningham £300 to gain entry into nightclub Mbargo, which was refused, as it was past 2am.

Stokes is said to have mocked two gay men, Kai Barry and William O'Connor, outside the club before knocking out two other men they were with a short time later.

Bristol Crown Court heard evidence from off-duty police community support officer Andrew Spure, who was celebrating a colleague's leaving do at Mbargo on the night in question.

In a statement written hours after the alleged incident, he described how he was walking down a nearby street after leaving the nightclub.

"I saw a group of people fighting, there were three to five people involved in some form of scuffle," his statement said.

"I walked into the road to try to separate the group and get in between them.

"As I was on my own, when I separated two of them more people carried on behind me.

"While I was trying to stop the fighting, one of the males struck the other in the head with a clenched fist."

The court has heard it was Stokes who had struck Ryan Ali, knocking him to the floor.

Ali, 28, and his friend Ryan Hale, 27, are also standing trial accused of affray during the incident.

When asked about separating Stokes and Ali, Mr Spure told the court: "The individual seemed to be the main aggressor or was progressing forward trying to get to another individual.

"In my statement I describe him as a gentleman with ginger or light brown hair. He had a green t-shirt on."

He said Ali "seemed to be trying to back away or get away from the situation" before he was punched by Stokes.

Mr Spure described how he attempted to move Ali out of the road, as there were passing cars, but he was "completely unable to move".

The court heard he identified Stokes to police officers, who then arrested the cricketer.

Jurors have been told that Stokes first hit Hale, knocking him to the ground, before rendering Ali unconscious in the punch seen by Mr Spure.

Nicholas Corsellis, prosecuting, read medical evidence of the injuries sustained by Hale and Ali in the alleged fight.

Ali was taken to Bristol Royal Infirmary by ambulance, with doctors noting that he had suffered a fracture to the medial orbital wall on the left side of his face.

His left eye was swollen and he had a laceration above his eyebrow, a cracked lower left molar and bruising to his head.

Hale cycled to hospital, where he was found to have bruising and a 1.5in superficial laceration to his forehead consistent with blunt trauma.

Ali is alleged to have threatened Stokes' England team-mate Alex Hales with a bottle during the incident, while Hale broke off a metal pole from a nearby road sign after being allegedly knocked out by Stokes.

Stokes, of Stockton Road, Castle Eden, Durham; Ali, of Forest Road, Bristol; and Hale, of Burghill Road, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol, each deny a joint charge of affray.

The trial continues.