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Ben Stokes trial: Day one sees jury hear argument from prosecution

England all-rounder Ben Stokes mocked a gay man and ‘flicked’ a cigarette at the person’s head in the lead up to knocking two men unconscious, a jury heard on Monday.

Stokes, 27, is attending trial on a charge of affray following an incident outside a Bristol nightclub last November.

He has been accused of punching Ryan Hale and Ryan Ali, both also charged with affray, after a fracas in the Clifton Triangle area of the city a few hours after England had beaten the West Indies in a one-day international.

Prosecution told the jury Stokes had left Mbargo nightclub at 00:46 only to return at 2:08 wanting to re-enter the nightclub.

Doorman Andrew Cunningham then explained to Stokes the club was closed and they could not enter, the prosecution argued, adding it was at this point the England international became ‘aggressive’.

Cunningham then alleges Stokes approached two ‘openly gay’ men and mimicked them in a ‘derogatory way’ before flicking a cigarette at one of the men.

The jury were shown CCTV footage that appeared to display Mr Ali hitting one of the gay men on the shoulder with a drinks bottle, with subsequent images showing Stokes throwing a punch at Ali.

Hale then tried to pull Stokes off Ali when he was then struck, prosecutor Nicholas Corsellis said.

Corsellis told the jury of Stokes, Ali and Hale’s actions that night: “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.”

Stokes, as well as Hale and Ali, denies the charge and the jury heard the statement he had given to police officers explaining how he stepped in to defend ‘my gay friends’ after they had been subjected to ‘nasty homophobic language’, he alleged.

Corsellis read out a second statement from Stokes, part of which read: “He denied mimicking or behaving in a derogatory manner towards Mr Barry and Mr O’Connor, saying that they had engaged in joking with each other and denied flicking a cigarette butt at anyone.”

Due to the ongoing trial Stokes will miss the second Test against India, with Chris Woakes set to return from injury in place of the Durham star.

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