What happened to Ben Stokes? What was he accused of in Bristol court case after brawl incident, affray meaning

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Ben Stokes considered quitting international cricket during the court case, new documentary reveals

The highs and lows of England cricket icon Ben Stokes will be explored in a brand new Amazon Prime documentary titled Phoenix from the Ashes.

The documentary which airs on Friday 26 August will focus on the career of Stokes, including his great performances at Headingley in the 2019 Ashes and his World Cup winning heroics at Lord’s in the same year.

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However, Stokes’s rise to the top has not been plain sailing and the documentary will also focus on the challenges he has faced during a rollercoaster journey in cricket.

In 2018, Stokes overcame a legal battle at Bristol Crown Court after being charged with affray. The charges created huge problems for the England all-rounder and jeopardised his career in the sport.

Here we take a look at what happened during the Bristol court case in 2018 and Stokes’s acquittal.

The career of England captain Ben Stokes will be explored in the Amazon Prime documentary Phoenix from the Ashes (Getty Images)The career of England captain Ben Stokes will be explored in the Amazon Prime documentary Phoenix from the Ashes (Getty Images)
The career of England captain Ben Stokes will be explored in the Amazon Prime documentary Phoenix from the Ashes (Getty Images) | Getty Images

What is affray?

Affray is a criminal offence which involves the fighting of two or more people in a public place. In legal terms it is partly defined as an action that would cause a person of reasonable firmness to fear for their safety.

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Affray is a type of disorderly conduct which can be punished by a fine, imprisonment or both depending on the severity of the case.

What was Ben Stokes accused of in the Bristol court case?

On 24 September 2017, Stokes was out celebrating with his team mates in Bristol after a victory against West Indies.

In the early hours of the morning the following day, the England all-rounder was embroiled in a fight with two other men, Ryan Hale and Ryan Ali.

Stokes was charged with affray along with the two other men on 15 January 2018 and appeared in court later that year to fight his case.

He denied the charge.

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What happened during the trial?

During the trial, which took place in August 2018, Stokes claimed that he was defending two men outside a nightclub in Bristol.

The England cricketer said his actions were in self defence and following a seven-day trial at Bristol Crown Court, the jury acquitted Stokes of the charge.

Ryan Ali, who was knocked unconscious in the brawl, and Ryan Hale were also acquitted of affray.

How did Ben Stokes react to the charges?

Reflecting on the experience in the Amazon Prime documentary Phoenix from the Ashes, Stokes is adamant he did not do anything wrong and feels vindicated by the not guilty verdict he was given in Bristol Crown Court.

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However, Stokes admitted that he felt let down by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) for denying him the opportunity to play in the winter Ashes in 2017/18.

Reflecting on the experience, he says that he believes there were a few “suits” that let him down and says he had considered quitting international cricket after the court case in 2018.

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