Image courtesy of: Zimbio
England all-rounder Ben Stokes was found not guilty of affray at the Bristol Crown Court.
Stokes’ charge stemmed from a physical altercation outside Mbargo nightclub in the early hours of September 25.
Stokes was arrested after the incident and has been on trial since August 6.
During the trial, Stokes was accused of mimicking and bullying two homosexual men, acting like a football hooligan during the incident, and lying to the jury.
Stokes did not deny punching co-defendant Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale, who was acquitted earlier on due to a lack of evidence. The 27-year-old explained that he had to resort to physical force since he feared for his safety and the safety of those around him.
It was also alleged that Ali used an upturned bottle early on in the altercation, while CCTV footage showed Hale armed with an iron bar that had been taken from a traffic sign while running to the scene of the dispute.
“On 25 September, Ben had been out with two mates, celebrating a win,” Stokes’ solicitor Paul Lunt said in a statement as quoted by ESPNcricinfo. “Contrary to some reports, there was no curfew in place, he was minding his own business when he came across two men being subjected to what Ben identified as serious homophobic abuse.
“It was only when others came under threat that Ben became physically engaged with the men in question. The steps that he took were solely aimed at ensuring the safety of himself and the others present.”
Lunt, who said the jury’s verdict “fairly reflects the truth of what happened that night”, added: “Today’s verdict represents the end of an 11-month ordeal for Ben. during which time he’s had to maintain his silence at times when many on social media, and in certain parts of the press, have pre-determined his guilt long before the trial was done.
“During the past week, the jury have been able to see and hear all of the evidence and not merely what the media have chosen to report. The evidence available to the jury included the full range of CCTV footage that shows exactly what happened in September.”
Upon the verdict being delivered, Stokes shut his eyes for a moment, but did not smile. However, he did shake hands with Ali.