Ben Stokes flicked cigarette butt at gay couple, trial told

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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.

"Everybody except him wants it to stop", he told the jury.

Stokes knocked two men unconscious in a street fight on September 25 past year.

Further down the street, he fought his co-defendants in a "sustained episode of significant violence that left onlookers shocked".

The cricketer has maintained that "at all times he acted in self-defence of himself or others" and believed the force he used was "reasonable and entirely justified".

A 27-year-old man allegedly suffered a fractured eye socket in the incident, at which fellow England cricketer Alex Hales was also present.

Stokes left Mbargo with England team mate Mr Hales just before 1am.

"Ben Stokes is a professional cricket player who has reached the top of his profession and represented his country", he said.

He was supported by wife Clare in the public gallery.

Stokes missed the Ashes series against Australia after being suspended from playing for England.

In his absence, England fell to a crushing 4-0 series defeat, surrendering the urn back to the Aussies.

All-rounder Stokes, 27, is accused of affray alongside Hale and Ali after a brawl on 25 September outside Mbargo nightclub in Clifton Triangle, Bristol. "They left and walked up the road".

Footage was shown that the prosecution said depicted Stokes mocking Kai Barry and William O'Connor, who were described as a "flamboyant, extrovert and openly gay young couple".

After he was arrested Mr Stokes was interviewed by police, and in a prepared statement said he saw two men speaking to two gay men in a "harsh and abusive" way.

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Stokes, who was smoking on the evening, allegedly flicked his cigarette butt at O'Connor's head.

He said that before leaving the club area Mr Stokes shook hands with his door supervisor colleague but he refused to do so.

"Mr Stokes became involved and punched out and grappled with Mr Ali on the ground". Neither Mr Barry nor Mr O'Connor will be giving evidence.

A video showed Mr Ali hitting Mr Barry on the shoulder with a bottle.

Stokes is accused of knocking both Hale and Ali out.

"He had a conversation with his friend and he said '£300, get us in', and I still told them no".

Mr Corsellis said Mr Stokes then lost control and knocked Mr Hale unconscious before pausing and doing the same thing to Mr Ali.

'Well beyond acting in self-defence or defence of another.

CCTV footage shows Stokes and Mr Hales then caught up with Ali, Hale, Mr Barry and Mr O'Connor.

"This was not a trivial moment of unpleasantness".

Corsellis said all three defendants were men with reputable promise, but that didn't defend them from their duty to behave.

Judge Peter Blair QC, the Recorder of Bristol, had asked potential jurors whether they were "extremely committed" cricket fans of either the England or India side, to avoid any chance of bias.

All three are on trial and each denies the charge of affray.

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