Ben Stokes, the England allrounder, lost his self-control and knocked two men unconscious in a street fight last September, a court heard on Monday as his trial for affray began.
The affray was imposed on Stokes by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) following an incident outside a Bristol nightclub last September. Stokes was arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm following the incident which allegedly left one man in the hospital.
The left-handed batsman was immediately suspended by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB). He later lost his vice-captaincy of the Test team and also the place in the squad for the Ashes.
He had returned to competitive cricket for Canterbury in the domestic one-day and T20 competitions in New Zealand. The allrounder made his international return during the ODI series in New Zealand.
Stokes, acting in “revenge, retaliation or punishment”, was involved in a “sustained episode of significant violence”, prosecutor Nicholas Corsellis told a jury at Bristol Crown Court in southwest England.
Stokes is facing the charges alongside 27-year-old Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale, 28. The trio has denied the charge of affray.
They had all been drinking inside a Bristol nightclub. The fight took place outside after 2:00 am, the prosecutor said. They were all involved in threatening and/or using unlawful violence towards each other, it is alleged.
Corsellis said only the defendants knew how the fracas began. He also said that the fight could have been stopped very quickly.
“During the incident, Mr Stokes lost his control and started to attack with revenge, retaliation or punishment in mind. Well beyond acting in self defence or defence of another,” he said.
“He knocked Mr Hale unconscious and then — after time to pause for thought, to calm — he did exactly the same to Mr Ali.
“Mr Ali received significant injuries included a fractured eye socket and required hospital treatment.”
Corsellis further said that the trio’s violent conduct had left the onlookers shocked.
“This was not a trivial moment of unpleasantness. It was a sustained episode of significant violence that left onlookers shocked at what was taking place,” he said.
“A bottle was used at the beginning by Mr Ali and a broken street sign brought into the fray towards the end by Mr Hale.”
The prosecutor said the three defendants were all young men of promise.
“Ben Stokes, is a professional cricket player who has reached the top of his profession and represented his country,” Corsellis said.
“Equally, Mr Ali has worked for the emergency services and Mr Hale has served his country in the armed forces.
“It almost goes without saying, but past success, fame or good deeds does not absolve you from your duty — and the law — to behave yourself.”
Stokes had starred for England in the first Test against India at Edgbaston. It was Stokes’ spell that fired England to the thrilling win. The allrounder took three wickets including the prized scalp of Virat Kohli to give England the lead.
The allrounder, however, is likely to miss the second Test starting on Thursday due to the ongoing trial. The trial is expected to last between five and seven days.