Sports

Ben Stokes found not guilty of affray

London, Aug 14 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 8/14/2018 1:11:48 PM IST

England cricketer Ben Stokes has been found not guilty of affray after a fight near a Bristol nightclub.

The Durham all-rounder, 27, denied the charge following the fracas between a group of men last September.

Ryan Ali, 28, who was knocked unconscious in the brawl, was also found not guilty of the same charge.

The fight happened several hours after England had played a one-day international against the West Indies at the County Ground in the city.

Stokes and Ali shook hands on leaving the dock.

His wife, Clare, cried when the not guilty verdicts were returned while Mr Stokes closed his eyes with relief and then looked up.

During the six-day trial, Bristol Crown Court heard the incident described as “a sustained episode of significant violence” from Stokes who had “lost control”.

The prosecution said he was “drunk and enraged” after being refused entry back into Mbargo nightclub at 02:00 BST on 25 September.

But Stokes told the jury he had “stepped in” to defend two gay men who were being verbally abused, and then had to defend himself from Ali and Ryan Hale, 27, who were threatening violence.

Hale was acquitted of the same charge last week.

Ali, who works for the emergency services, suffered a fractured eye socket in the brawl while Hale, a former soldier, was left with concussion.

As Ali left court, smiling, he told BBC Sport editor Dan Roan he was “relieved it’s all over” and said he had no further comment to make.

Stokes would now face an England and Wales Cricket Board independent disciplinary committee, likely charged with bringing the game into disrepute.

On the first day of the trial, the prosecution team applied for Mr Stokes to be charged with two counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, a lesser charge, but this was rejected by Judge Peter Blair QC.

Rejoins England squad

Ben Stokes will join the England squad for the third Test against India at Trent Bridge, the England and Wales Cricket Board has announced.

The England all-rounder was cleared of affray on Tuesday at Bristol Crown Court following an incident which occurred on September 25 last year.

The ECB added the Cricket Discipline Commission can now start its disciplinary process for Stokes and England team-mate Alex Hales.

An ECB spokesperson said, “Now that the legal proceedings have concluded, the disciplinary process for Ben Stokes and Alex Hales can be scheduled by the Cricket Discipline Commission [CDC].”

“Ben Stokes will now join the England squad for the third Specsavers Test against India, which starts at Trent Bridge on Saturday. Considerable detail has been heard in this week-long court case and, in due course, there will be a range of matters for the board to fully consider.”

 

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