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Hales could have caused injuries to man Ben Stokes punched, court told

Gordon Cole QC, representing Stokes, made a defence closing speech on behalf of his client.

Alex Hales may have caused injuries to a man who was later knocked unconscious by England team-mate Ben Stokes, a court has heard.

Stokes, 27, has insisted he was acting in self-defence when he hit Ryan Ali, 28, and Ryan Hale, 27, after they had abused two gay men near a nightclub in Bristol.

Bristol Crown Court heard that the precise start to the violence is unknown but Ali, who is on trial alongside Stokes accused of affray, swung a beer bottle at Mr Hales.

Ali then delivered a glancing blow to the shoulder of Kai Barry, a gay man who was out with friend William O’Connor in the Clifton Triangle area of Bristol in the early hours of September 25 last year.

Stokes is accused of knocking Ali to the floor, with fellow cricketer Mr Hales then apparently kicking his head and stamping on him as he lay on the ground.

The all-rounder is said to have knocked Mr Hale unconscious before doing the same to Ali a short time later.

Ali suffered a fracture to the medial orbital wall on the left hand side of his face, with swelling on his left eye and a laceration above his eyebrow, a cracked lower left molar and a bruise behind his left ear.

Jurors have been told that Mr Hales was interviewed under caution but not arrested or charged in connection with the incident.

Gordon Cole QC, representing Stokes, questioned whether his client had caused all of the injuries sustained by Ali given Mr Hales’ alleged involvement.

He asked the jury to carefully consider footage taken by student Max Wilson, who began filming from his bedroom window after hearing shouting from the street below.

“This is not part of me seeking to blame someone else,” Mr Cole told the jury in his closing speech for Stokes’ defence.

“You saw the footage. You will remember when Mr Stephen Mooney (barrister for Mr Hale) was here that he made reference to Alex Hales coming into the fray.

“You will see Mr Hales on one occasion appearing to kick.

“So, when the prosecution seeks to hang all the blame at Ben Stokes’ door by saying he rendered people unconscious, just look at what happened.

“Think about kicks and stamps. There’s no evidence before you – and I’m not suggesting for one minute that you should guess – but you can infer from what you know of injuries that were sustained.

“Sustained perhaps by Alex Hales’ intervention? Blows, kicks and or stamps to the head area.

“Does it follow that all of these injuries are properly attributed to Ben Stokes? We say no. We say that the evidence is ambiguous. We say how do you resolve that?”

Mr Cole pointed out that prosecutors charged Stokes, Mr Hale and Ali with affray and not assault.

Last week, the jury acquitted Mr Hale of the charge after Judge Peter Blair QC, the Recorder of Bristol, ruled there was insufficient evidence against him.

“It is not part of my job to prosecute Mr Hale, or Alex Hales. That is common sense. But it’s where we are now,” Mr Cole said.

The jury of six men and six women have been told Stokes and Mr Hales went to the Mbargo nightclub in Bristol, where they had been drinking earlier in the evening, in the early hours of September 25.

Stokes is alleged to have been aggressive towards doorman Andrew Cunningham, who refused the two cricketers entry as it was after 2am, by calling him a “c***” and insulting his gold teeth and tattoos.

He is said to have mocked two gay men, Kai Barry and William O’Connor, outside the nightclub. They walked off with Mr Hale and Ali.

Giving evidence, Stokes told the jury he intervened after hearing Mr Hale and Ali launch homophobic abuse towards Mr Barry and Mr O’Connor on a street near the nightclub – with Ali threatening him with a bottle in return.

He insisted he was acting in self-defence and in defence of Mr Hales, Mr Barry and Mr O’Connor at all times and admitted throwing a number of punches at Ali and Mr Hale.

Mr Cole asked the jury: “Is this man getting special treatment because of who he is? Is this man being focused on because of who he is?”

But Nicholas Corsellis, prosecuting, told the jury that the case was focused on Stokes as there was more evidence relating to him.

“I’m not targeting him at all,” he told the jury.

“I seek to deal with both defendants as fairly as possible but more of the evidence focuses on Mr Stokes.”

Stokes, of Stockton Road, Castle Eden, Durham, and Ali, of Forest Road, Bristol, each deny a charge of affray.

The trial continues.

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