Jury acquits Ben Stokes on charge of affray after trial

The jury in Ben Stokes’ affray trial has returned a not guilty verdict after a week of witness testimony and arguments for the sides of prosecution and defence were heard.

Stokes was back in court awaiting the outcome after the jury retired to deliberate the case at 10am on Tuesday morning.

Ryan Ali, who was knocked unconscious in a street brawl outside Bristol nightclub Mbargo last September, was also found not guilty by the jury and shook hands with Stokes before leaving the dock.

After midday, Judge Peter Blair QC announced Stokes and Ali had been unanimously cleared of the charge by the jurors. This result means no party has been prosecuted for the fracas, after Blair instructed the jury last week to return a not guilty verdict against Ryan Hale. Stokes, Ali and Hale had all denied a charge of affray.

Stokes had claimed throughout the trial that he acted in self defence after he alleged he thought two gay men were being verbally abused with ‘homphobic language’ by Ali and Hale – a claim they both denied.

The Durham star argued he resorted to physical defence when after intervening Ali said: “shut the f*** up or I’ll bottle you”.

Commenting on this, Stokes told the court: “All my actions were in self-defence and fearing for my safety.”

Prosecutor Nicholas Corsellis had painted a picture of “a sustained episode of significant violence” during the early stages of the trial, describing Stokes as someone who had “lost control”.

The charge of affray brought against Stokes by the Crown Prosecution Service led to him missing England’s Ashes tour to Australia last winter, where Joe Root’s side were outclassed in a 4-1 series defeat.

The England all-rounder was not named in England’s squad for the third Test against India at Trent Bridge.

His availability for England remains undetermined in the wake of his not guilty verdict, as the ECB’s internal disciplinary committee now conducts its own review into Stokes’ and teammate Alex Hales’ conduct that night.

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