Jury retires to consider verdict in Ben Stokes' assault trial

England cricketer Ben Stokes leaves Bristol Crown Court where he is on trial accused of affray

Ben Stokes is on trial for affray at Bristol Crown Court Credit PA Wire

England cricket star Ben Stokes has been found not guilty of affray after an alcohol-fuelled brawl outside a nightclub previous year.

The 27-year-old was cleared by the jury after an incident outside a Bristol nightclub last September, which also included teammate Alex Hales.

He told the court he was defending gay couple Kai Barry and William O'Connor from a potential homophobic attack, but the prosecution claimed that Stokes was "making fun" of their "camp behaviour" and flicked his cigarette butt at them. A third man, Ryan Hale, was acquitted of the charge last Thursday on the directions of the judge.

"Considerable detail has been heard in this week-long court case and, in due course, there will be a range of matters for the Board to fully consider", European Central Bank said in a statement.

Ben Stokes will miss the third England vs India Test too due to the ongoing trial as England, on Monday named an unchanged 13-man squad for the upcoming game.

One Twitter user created a poll asking whether Stokes should play cricket for England again if he was convicted but escaped a prison sentence.

Stokes stuck to his version of the events that unfolded, and reiterated that he threw punches at Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale in an act of self-defence.

Ali then delivered a glancing blow to the shoulder of Kai Barry, a gay man who was out with friend William O'Connor in the Clifton Triangle area of Bristol in the early hours of September 25 a year ago.

Bristol Crown Court has heard Mr Hales kicked Mr Ali in the head and stamped on him as he lay on the ground, with Mr Stokes then knocking out Mr Hale.

Neither O'Connor nor Barry gave evidence but the judge said imaginations should not run riot as to why that had been the case. He is believed to have had at least 10 drinks, including vodka and beer before the fight broke out at around 2 am, hours after England had beaten West Indies in an ODI fixture. Mr Stokes then allegedly knocked Mr Ali to the floor.

Ali, an emergency services worker, suffered a fractured eye socket while Mr Hale, a former soldier, was left with concussion. "They just want to get in with their lives".

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