England cricketer Ben Stokes “lost control” and knocked two men unconscious in an alleged fight outside a nightclub in Bristol after drinking, a court has heard.
The 27-year-old all-rounder is accused of punching Ryan Hale, 27, to the ground and then “after a time to pause for thought” allegedly knocked out Ryan Ali, 28.
Stokes, Hale and Ali are jointly accused of affray – a charge they all deny – and are on trial at Bristol Crown Court.
Prosecutor Nicholas Corsellis said an altercation took place in the Clifton Triangle area of the city on September 25 2017 shortly after 2am after the three defendants had all left the Mbargo nightclub having all been drinking.
He told the jury of six men and six women: “In the early hours of the morning of Monday September 25 2017, a fight took place between these three defendants in central Bristol in the area known as the Clifton Triangle.
“They were, the Crown say, all involved in threatening and/or using unlawful violence towards each other. Some participated to a greater extent than others as you will see.”
Mr Corsellis told the court that all the defendants had been drinking that night and had been at the Mbargo nightclub, with the alleged incident taking place after the club closed after 2am.
“How precisely it started is only known by the defendants. The violence that erupted could actually have stopped very quickly and it would have remained a relatively minor incident,” Mr Corsellis said.
“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 or defence of another.
“He knocked Mr Hale unconscious and then – after time to pause for thought, to calm – he did exactly the same to Mr Ali.
“Mr Ali received significant injuries, including a fractured eye socket, and required hospital treatment.”
Mr Corsellis added: “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.
“A bottle was used at the beginning by Mr Ali and a broken street sign brought into the fray towards the end by Mr Hale.
“It is with regret that these defendants are before you, for they are all young men of promise.
“The defendant, Ben Stokes, is a professional cricket player who has reached the top of his profession and represented his country.
“Equally, Mr Ali has worked for the emergency services and Mr Hale has served his country in the armed forces.
“It almost goes without saying, but past success, fame or good deeds does not absolve you from your duty – and the law – to behave yourself. The law and court favour no person and all are to be judged equally.”
Wearing a blue suit and red tie, Stokes was driven to the city’s Crown Court in a silver people carrier and walked straight into the building flanked by the media.
Trial judge Judge Peter Blair QC, the Recorder of Bristol, had asked 16 potential jurors whether they were “extremely committed” cricket fans following either the England or India teams.
The potential panel were also asked whether they knew any of the three defendants and a number of other people who could be called to give evidence in the trial.
This includes Stokes’s teammate Alex Hales, William O’Connor and Kai Barry, nightclub doorman Andrew Cunningham, Clifton Triangle residents Maximilian Wilson, Lauren Sweeney and Jess Thomas, and police officers.
Stokes missed the Ashes after being suspended from playing for England.
Without him, England lost the series against Australia 4-0.
He has since played in the Test series against New Zealand, Pakistan and last week starred as England beat India at Edgbaston.
Stokes, of Stockton Road, Castle Eden, Durham; Ali, of Forest Road, Bristol; and Hale, of Burghill Road, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol, are on bail.