Gay men thanked Ben Stokes for protecting them, court hears

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In a statement provided to police and heard in court, Stokes said he only stepped in after hearing two men being homophobic toward two other men.

In a statement, Mr Spure said he had tried to separate Mr Stokes and Mr Ali, with the others continuing their behaviour behind him.

The fight took place several hours after England had played a one-day global against West Indies at the city's County Ground.

"I chose to intervene and asked Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale to stop abusing Kai and William. One of them said something like "shut the f**k up or I'll bottle you".

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

"So, I felt the need to defend myself".

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"I walked into the road to try to separate the group and get in between them".

England cricketer Ben Stokes has been identified by a trial witness as the "main aggressor" in the street brawl that led him to court where he is now defending a charge of affray.

"They had shown a willingness to use weapons in attacking people and were willing to gang up such that at points, the pair of them were attacking me on my own".

He also mentioned that the two other men - Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale, who are standing trial also accused of affray along with Stokes - left the club and accompanied O'Connor and Barry.

Mr Spure said Ali "seemed to be trying to back away or get away from the situation" before he was punched by Stokes.

"I asked him (Stokes), "If you are going to start on someone, start on me", he said.

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He also denied flicking his lit cigarette end in the suggested manner at a gay man's head outside the club.

Stokes "started to take the mick out of them", mimicking their actions and "high-pitched" voices, he told the court.

Stokes told police he "did not feel in any way drunk or impaired" and that he had consumed two or three pints at dinner before a further five drinks of vodka with a mixer in the Mbargo nightclub.

Ali suffered a fracture to the medial orbital wall on the left side of his face.

Hale sustained a 1.5in laceration to his forehead - consistent with blunt trauma.

Trial judge Judge Peter Blair QC earlier asked 16 potential jurors whether they were "extremely committed" cricket fans following either the England or India teams. In it, Ali denied saying anything offensive to either Barry or O'Connor, but accepted that "one of the guys" became "quite irate" after "banter" between the men.

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