Ben Stokes declared not guilty of affray

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LONDON: England cricketer Ben Stokes has been found not guilty of affray following a brawl with two nightclub revellers. The 27-year-old all-rounder punched Ryan Hale, 27, to the ground and then knocked out Ryan Ali, 28, during the fracas in the early hours of September 25 last year in Bristol city centre.
Stokes said he was acting in self-defence, or in the defence of others, when he punched the two best friends hours after England played the West Indies in a one-day international in the city.
The jury at Bristol Crown Court took under three hours to acquit Stokes and co-accused Ali of affray following a seven day trial. At the start of the trial the Crown tried to amend the indictment and charge Stokes with two counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm but this was rejected by the judge.
And half way through the trial Stokes’s legal team attempted to have the case against him dropped but this was also refused by the judge.
Stokes missed the second Test against India at Lords and was not included in the squad for the third Test, beginning on Saturday at Trent Bridge, because of the on-going court proceedings.
The court heard how the night began with Stokes and other England players, including James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Liam Plunkett, Jake Ball and Alex Hales, taking taxis into Bristol city centre. Stokes had had “at least 10 drinks” in the hours before the incident, which included a bottle of beer, two or three pints of lager, five or six vodka and lemonades and some Jagerbombs.
He was accused of being “actually really very drunk”.
Meanwhile Ali had reportedly drunk six or seven Jack Daniels and Cokes during his night out with Mr Hale. Much of the incident and the build-up was captured on CCTV cameras located around the Clifton Triangle area – a popular nightspot in Bristol.
Stokes, of Stockton Road, Castle Eden, Durham, and Ali, of Forest Road, Bristol, each deny a charge of affray. Mr Hale was found not guilty last week of affray by the jury on direction of the judge.