Ben Stokes said he was protecting gay couple in fight, court told

Ben Stokes said he was protecting gay couple in fight, court told

The cricketer Ben Stokes feared being violently attacked by two men carrying weapons as he intervened to protect a gay couple on the receiving end of homophobic abuse, a jury has heard.

The Durham and England player said in a statement read to Bristol crown court that he became involved in a violent street fight to stop his “gay friends” from being beaten up.

The 27-year-old maintained in the statement that he only remained involved in the brawl, during which he knocked two men unconscious, because he believed he and others were in serious peril.

The court was told Stokes had been on a night out with England teammates, including Alex Hales, in Bristol city centre last September, celebrating a victory over the West Indies in a one-day international match.

The former England vice-captain said he had consumed five vodka mixer drinks and two or three beers before he and Hales met gay couple Kai Barry and William O’Connor outside the Mbargo nightclub in the city shortly after 2am.

The prosecution earlier this week had alleged that Stokes had been mimicking the couple’s “flamboyant and exaggerated” mannerisms and walking style in a “derogatory manner”.

But Stokes denied being homophobic in the statement, which was given to police on 20 November last year. On the contrary, Stokes said he became involved in an altercation with former serviceman Ryan Hale and firefighter Ryan Ali, friends since childhood, when he witnessed them abusing Barry and O’Connor.

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Source: The Guardian