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Ben Stokes has denied lying to a jury by claiming he stepped in to stop homophobic abuse before his arrest outside a nightclub.

The England cricketer was accused of “exaggerating” claims two men were hurling insults at a gay couple before he knocked the alleged abusers unconscious in Bristol city centre.

During the fifth day of his trial for affray, prosecutors suggested the 27-year-old was “an angry man” who “lost all control” during the alleged brawl on 25 September.

Stokes insisted he intervened to stop Ryan Ali, 28, and Ryan Hale, 27, from abusing William O’Connor and Kai Barry outside Mbargo nightclub.

But he said a “significant memory blackout” prevented him recalling the exact nature of the insults.

Giving evidence for the second day, he told Bristol Crown Court: “I can’t remember the specific words used, but the manner in which Mr Hale and Mr Ali were speaking towards the two gentlemen was homophobic abuse.

“The temperature obviously rose as I started to intervene with what the two guys were saying towards Mr Barry and Mr O’Connor.

“Mr Barry and Mr O’Connor were shouting back at Mr Hale and Mr Ali.”

Stokes said Mr Ali replied “f**k off or I’ll bottle you” after he intervened, before swinging a beer bottle at his England teammate Alex Hales and delivering a glancing blow to Mr Barry’s shoulder.

Onlooker Max Wilson, who filmed the fracas from his bedroom window above, told the court it appeared to start with one man shoving another but Stokes could not recall this.

The cricketer described Ali – who is also charged with affray – as “aggressive and violent”.

But Anna Midgley, representing Ali, suggested Stokes had “overexaggerated the exchange between Mr O’Connor and Mr Barry and the two Ryans in an attempt to justify [his] own violent behaviour”. Read more

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