England's Stokes mimicked gay men, says doorman

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

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LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — Ben Stokes made “stupid noises” and “camp gestures” to mimic two gay men outside a nightclub, a doorman said yesterday at the England cricketer's trial for alleged affray.

Stokes mimicked the “high-pitched” voices of William O'Connor and Kai Barry, two regulars at Mbargo nightclub in Bristol, south-west England, doorman Andrew Cunningham told Bristol Crown Court.

On Monday's opening day of the trial, jurors saw footage of Stokes, 27, brawling with 27-year-old Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale, 28, outside Mbargo in the early hours of September 25 last year.

Stokes, who starred on Saturday as England beat India in the first Test at Edgbaston, Ali and Hale each deny a charge of affray.

The prosecution said Stokes told police he intervened with Ali and Hale because he overheard “nasty homophobic language”, then told police he acted in self-defence when he thought he was about to be hit with a bottle.

He allegedly knocked Hale unconscious first, then Ali.

Doorman Cunningham, appearing as a witness, said Stokes and his England teammate Alex Hales had tried to get into the club but were refused as it was after 2:00 am.

Stokes offered 60 ($78, 67 euros) and then 300 to be let in, said Cunningham — an offer he refused.

Stokes then got “verbally abusive,” mocking Cunningham's gold teeth and tattoos in a “spiteful” and “angry tone”, the doorman told the court.

The doorman said “flamboyant” regulars Barry and O'Connor had left the nightclub and were standing outside talking.

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

“They are quite effeminate guys and their voices are different. He made noises to try to copy them — not saying anything, just making stupid noises. Just like hand gestures... camp gestures.”

He said Barry and O'Connor did not appear angry.

A cigarette butt was then flicked at them and Cunningham said he stepped in, before Hales turned to his friend and said, “Stokesy, don't do that”.

Stokes's lawyer Gordon Cole said Barry and O'Connor had been “taking the mickey” out of Stokes's shoes.

“Mr Stokes, Mr Hales, Mr Barry and Mr O'Connor are outside of the door of Mbargo together — laughing,” Cole said.

“It presents a picture of four people together. It is not homophobic behaviour, is it?

“For about six minutes, all together, laughing, joking, talking and then they walk away.”

Doorman Cunningham suggested the cricketers “were laughing and joking at them, not with them”, adding that Stokes “didn't seem drunk”.

Police detective constable Daniel Adams was also questioned, agreeing that footage showed Ali and his friend Hale holding bottles.

He alleged that cricketer Hales, who is not on trial, had “definitely used his feet on three occasions” on Ali.

Film student Max Wilson, 21, who watched the scene unfold outside his bedroom window before he began filming it, said the group of six men were “clearly drunk” and sounded like “football hooligans”.

He told the court that he was surprised by the force of a punch thrown and felt sorry for the man who was hit.

The trial, which began Monday, is expected to last between five and seven days.

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