England's Ben Stokes pleads not guilty in nightclub brawl trial

England all-rounder Ben Stokes, accused of involvement in an altercation outside a nightclub that cost him his place on the Ashes tour, pleaded not guilty to a charge of affray in court on Tuesday.
The 26-year-old, who missed the trip to Australia after being suspended from playing for England, appeared at a magistrates' court in the southwestern city of Bristol along with Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale.
It follows the altercation during the early hours of September 25 last year, several hours after England had played a one-day international against the West Indies in the city. It is alleged a 27-year-old man suffered a fractured eye socket in the incident, at which fellow England cricketer Alex Hales was also present. Hales faced no charges.
Ali, Stokes and Hale spoke to confirm their names, dates of births, addresses and nationalities. The clerk read out the charges and all three defendants indicated not guilty pleas. Stokes is accused jointly with Ali and Hale of using or threatening unlawful violence towards another.
The charge states that his "conduct was such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his personal safety". The other two defendants face the same charge. All three defendants elected to be tried by a jury at a crown court.
"I have decided that your trial will take place at the crown court at Bristol. The first hearing date will be March 12," said District Judge Simon Cooper. "You will be on bail." Without Stokes, England lost the Ashes to Australia 4-0.
Stokes, who has not played for England since the incident cost him a place on the Ashes tour of Australia, was cleared for selection by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) last month. His court appearance came on the day England played New Zealand in a T20 match in Wellington, their first game in a tri-series also involving Australia.
Stokes, 28-year-old Ryan Ali and 26-year-old Ryan Hale spoke to confirm their names, dates of birth, addresses and nationalities. British media reports said all three had indicated they were acting in self-defence or defence of another.
Stokes, vice-captain of the England test team and one of world cricket's most destructive batsmen, was arrested on Sept. 26 after scoring 73 in a 124-run one day international win over West Indies in the south-western city.
(Inputs from Reuters)
Article Type:  Report Sections:  Cricket Sports Agencies:  PTI Tags:  Cricket trial Court Ben Stokes England ryan hale Alex Hales Australia Bristol London West Indies Tue, 13 Feb 2018-06:06pm Date updated:  Tuesday, 13 February 2018 - 6:06pm Article Images: 

Stokes AFP File Photo

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