Image courtesy of: Zimbio
England all-rounder Ben Stokes pleaded not guilty to affray at Bristol Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.
Stokes’ affray charge stems from a street fight he was involved in outside the Mbargo nightclub in Bristol in September last year. In the incident, it is understood that a 27-year-old man sustained a fractured eye socket.
The 26-year-old appeared in court alongside two other men, 28-year-old Ryan Ali and 26-year-old Ryan Hale, who have also been charged with the same offence.
Stokes, Ali and Hale confirmed their names, dates of births, addresses and nationalities before the clerk read out the charges. The trio pleaded not guilty.
The affray charge states that Stokes’ “conduct was such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his personal safety”.
While affray is a charge that can be tried at the magistrates’ court or the crown court, Stokes, Ali and Hale all opted for it to be tried at Bristol Crown Court.
Once this was confirmed, District Judge Simon Cooper said: “I have decided that your trial will take place at the crown court at Bristol. The first hearing date will be March 12. You will be on bail.”
Since Stokes will not have to be present during the hearing on March 12, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) confirmed that he will fly out to New Zealand on Wednesday.
Stokes is not being considered for selection for ongoing T20 tri-series, which also features Australia and New Zealand, but it is likely that he could make his international comeback during the ODI series against New Zealand, which begins on February 25 in Hamilton.
“Having entered his plea at Bristol Magistrates Court today, Ben Stokes will now travel to New Zealand to join the England squad,” the spokesperson said in a statement released by the ECB. “He departs tomorrow, Wednesday 14 February, and will arrive on Friday 16 February, ready to train with England team mates in Hamilton.
“Any decision to include him in upcoming matches will be made by Head Coach Trevor Bayliss and the England management team. He is not currently being considered for the ongoing International T20 Tri-Series.
“ECB fully respects his right to defend himself in court and any obligations he has within the legal process will always take precedence over England commitments.
“It has been confirmed that he will not be required to return to the UK for the first hearing at Bristol Crown Court on Monday 12 March.”