Man knocked unconscious by Ben Stokes questions why England cricketer was not charged with assault

Adam Forrest

One of two men knocked unconscious by cricket star Ben Stokes has insisted the incident should have been treated as assault.

Ryan Hale, 27, and his best friend Ryan Ali, 28, were both punched by the England all-rounder in a brawl near a Bristol nightclub last September.

Mr Hale – a veteran of the conflict in Afghanistan – suffered bruising to his forehead and a 1.5 inch-long laceration. He was also left with concussion.

The cricketer was acquitted of an affray charge at the end of a Bristol Crown Court trial earlier this week. The star admitted to knocking out two men in the early hours of 25 September last year, violence captured by CCTV cameras around the Clifton Triangle nightspot.

Mr Hale’s lawyers said he “struggles with the reasons why the Crown Prosecution Service did not treat him as a victim of an unlawful assault”.

The star admitted to knocking out two men in the early hours of 25 September last year. The violence was captured on CCTV cameras around the popular nightspot in the Clifton Triangle.

The late-night incident occurred after two gay men – William O’Connor and Kai Barry – were said to have experienced homophobic abuse outside the Mbargo nightclub.

Mr Stokes claimed he was had been acting in self-defence, or in the defence of others, after he witnessed the pair suffering abuse about their sexuality.

But the former soldier has disputed claims made by Mr O’Connor and Mr Barry, who have made media appearance since the verdict describing the England cricketer as a “hero” for jumping to their defence.

“Mr Hale denies that there was any animosity between the group throughout the evening, and he in fact left the Mbargo nightclub and greeted Mr O’Connor and Mr Barry in a friendly way, as supported by CCTV,” his legal team stated today.

“He does not in any way accept that there was any homophobic behaviour on his or his friend’s part. It is upsetting to Mr Hale that although he was acquitted, the accusation that he was the author of such abuse remains.”

Mr Ali, an emergency services worker, suffered a fracture to the left of his face, a swollen left eye and a laceration above his eyebrow. He also had a cracked lower left molar.

Mr Hale, Mr Ali and Mr Stokes were all accused of affray but were acquitted by a jury.

The CPS has faced criticism for its handling of the case after some charges were dropped on the eve of the trial. The judge Peter Blair QC rejected CPS attempts to charge Mr Stokes with two counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm on the eve of the trial.

Meanwhile, England head coach Trevor Bayliss has called on Mr Stokes, who is training with the Test squad ahead of the game with India on Saturday, to make a public apology over the incident.

PA