Ryan Hale, the person who was allegedly knocked out by England all-rounder Ben Stokes and a former soldier, has said in court that Stokes could have killed him; as the ex-serviceman was formally cleared of affray.
Stokes, Hale and a third man, Ryan Ali, were in Bristol Crown Court on Thursday for the fourth day of their trial for alleged affray in the southwest English city on September 25 last year.
The court has seen security camera footage of Stokes, 27, brawling with Hale and Ali in a Bristol street. The prosecution has said Stokes first knocked out Hale, then 27-year-old Ali. After the prosecution concluded its case against the three men, Judge Peter Blair told the jury to find Hale not guilty.
"I am directing you to find him not guilty in my analysis of the evidence," Blair said. Hale, 28, was formally found not guilty and invited to leave the dock.
Hale told police in a formal interview: "I'm a dad. He could have killed me. I don't know why he didn't stop. He could have beaten the living hell out of me. It's shocking to see someone doing that to someone who didn't do anything wrong."
Hale in his statement said that he and Ali were walking away from the Mbargo nightclub along with William O'Connor and Kai Barry, two openly gay regulars at the club.
“The first thing he did was put his hand on my knob. I'm an ex-soldier, to me it's banter. It did not offend me at all. He was pinching my arse and I grabbed him and said 'You're coming home with me'. He said 'Just because I'm gay doesn't mean I'm going home with any other bloke'." Hale said in the police interview.
Stokes had told the officer who had arrested him that he intervened "because he was abusing my two friends for being gay."
Hales, the former soldier said in his police interview, "I remember saying 'I don't want any trouble'. I am telling him to stop. He is having a go at Ryan and I am trying to stop any fight, to stop him getting hurt. That's the moment I get smashed to the face. I was the innocent bystander getting assaulted brutally for nothing, standing there with open fists being smacking around the place.”
Hale said of Stokes: "There's no self-defence and he isn't defending anyone else."
(with inputs from Agence France-Presse/AFP)