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Ben Stokes was 'main aggressor' in Bristol brawl, court hears

Bristol: Ben Stokes was the "main aggressor" in a late-night street fight in Bristol that left one man with serious facial injuries including a broken eye socket and a deep cut to his face, a court has heard.

The England cricketer knocked out Ryan Ali with one punch while the firefighter appeared to be backing away from a confrontation, the jury at Bristol crown court was told.

Stokes had been out with teammates in Bristol city centre celebrating victory over the West Indies in a one-day international match in September. He and his fellow cricketer Alex Hales were denied re-entry to Mbargo after returning to the nightclub, where they had earlier been drinking, at 2.08 am, after the venue had stopped allowing people in for the evening.

At about 2.35 am, Stokes was filmed on CCTV brawling with his co-defendants Ali and Ryan Hale. All three deny a charge of affray.

An off-duty police and community support officer told the court he had immediately identified Stokes as the most aggressive member of the group, which was fighting in the middle of one of Bristol's busiest streets.

Mark Spure, who had been in Mbargo at a colleague's leaving party, happened upon the fight on Queen's Road. In a statement read to the court, he said: "I saw a group of three to five males engaged in a scuffle in the road and was about five metres away. I walked into the road to try and intervene and got between them."

Asked by Nicholas Corsellis, for the prosecution, why he had chosen two particular men to try to get between, Spure told the jury: "One individual seemed to be the main aggressor, trying to get at another individual. In my statement, I described him as having ginger or light brown hair with a green T-shirt on. The other man seemed to be trying to back away or move away from the situation.

"While I was trying to stop the fighting, one man struck another with a clenched fist and he fell to the floor."

On CCTV footage, Spure could be seen tending to Ali, who appeared to be immobile on the floor as cars sped past. "I stayed with the person on the floor," Spure said in a statement read to the court. "His eye was swollen and bloodied with blood running down his face."

Stokes arrived for the third day of his trial holding hands with his wife, Clare Ratcliffe. They were closely followed by his agent, Neil Fairbrother, and his solicitor, Paul Lunt, who have been regular attenders in the friends and family box in courtroom number one, alongside James Hill, an associate at Onside Law, the legal firm used by the England and Wales Cricket Board.

The court heard Ali arrived at the emergency department of Bristol Royal infirmary at 3.48 am on Monday 26 September last year with a catalogue of injuries. He sustained a fracture to the medial orbital wall on the left side of his face. His left eye was very swollen and he had a laceration above his eyebrow. He also had a cracked lower left molar.

Hale, who the court was earlier told had been knocked unconscious by Stokes, sustained a 1.5-inch cut and bruising to his forehead, and had a headache. The injuries were considered to be consistent with blunt trauma.

Stokes had no obvious injuries apart from swelling over a knuckle on his right hand.

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