A jury has retired to consider its verdicts in the trial of England cricketer Ben Stokes, who is accused of knocking two men unconscious in a brawl near a nightclub.
The 27-year-old all-rounder is alleged to have punched Ryan Hale, 27, to the ground and then knocked out Ryan Ali, 28, during the fracas in the early hours of September 25 last year.
It is alleged that Stokes was “enraged” after a doorman refused to allow him and teammate Alex Hales back into a nightclub hours after England had beaten the West Indies in a one-day international in Bristol.
Bristol Crown Court heard that Stokes punched best friends Ali and Mr Hale unconscious after “charging” at them from across the road.
Stokes told the jury he felt “under threat” at all times during the incident and said he only stepped in after hearing Ali and Mr Hale shouting homophobic abuse at gay men William O’Connor and Kai Barry.
Prosecutors allege that Ali used a bottle during the fight, threatening Mr Hales and delivering a glancing blow to the shoulder of Mr Barry.
Ali, an emergency services worker, suffered a fractured eye socket, while Mr Hale, a former soldier, was left with concussion after both were punched by the cricketer in the brawl.
Ali told jurors the England cricketer “was very angry and looking for someone to pick on”.
He said his memory of the evening was “incomplete” because of the head injury he suffered when he was knocked out by Stokes.
Ali denied that Mr O’Connor and Mr Barry were being “a bit of a nuisance” and he and Mr Hale were getting “irate” with them.
He said that deciding to use a bottle as a weapon would be a “difficult decision for me to take”.
“I would have to perceive a significant threat to do that. I can hear myself saying ‘Move away’,” he said.
Stokes, of Stockton Road, Castle Eden, Durham, and Ali, of Forest Road, Bristol, each deny a charge of affray. Mr Hale was found not guilty last week of affray by the jury on direction of the judge.