Jury set to consider verdict as Ben Stokes awaits fate | Cricket Bats | England

The jury in the trial of Ben Stokes will retire to consider their verdict on Tuesday morning.

Stokes, who is being tried alongside Ryan Ali, denies a charge of affray following an incident that took place in the early hours of September 25. The charge carries a maximum penalty of three years in jail and an unlimited fine.

The jury has been asked to reach a unanimous decision though it is possible that, if they have not been able to do so by late on Tuesday or early on Wednesday, the judge will permit a majority decision.

Monday in Bristol Crown Court saw closing statements from barristers and a summing-up from the judge that encompassed much of the evidence given over the last week.

In his summing-up, Judge Blair directed the jury “not to hold it against Mr Stokes” that he didn’t answer police questions but relied upon statements when first interviewed by the police. Stokes was told by his lawyers at the time not to answer questions. “It would be surprising not to take advice of a lawyer,” Judge Blair said.

The judge also suggested that Stokes’ account had been “very consistent” from the first time he was interviewed by the police, on September 25, to his appearance in the witness box.

In contrast, he said the recollection of Andrew Cunningham, the doorman at Mbargo nightclub who suggested Stokes was abusive and had bullied two gay men, was not entirely consistent. Cunningham has suggested he had directed several members of the England cricket team to Manos cocktail bar (next door to Mbargo) when they first arrived at Mbargo as the club was a little quiet. CCTV footage, however, suggested “his memory is quite wrong about that”.

Earlier, Gordon Cole QC, acting for Stokes, had suggested the worst of the injuries inflicted in the incident might have been inflicted by Stokes’ England team-mate, Alex Hales, while Anna Midgley QC, acting for Ryan Ali, admitted her client may feel “regret and embarrassment for brandishing a bottle”.

But, Midgley said, Ali was “responding” to “an escalation in tension” and used the bottle – a bottle that was in his hand anyway and from which he had previously been drinking – “in self-defence”.

While Chris Haynes, the director of communications at the ECB, has spent a couple of days listening to evidence, there was no direct ECB representative on Monday. The Professional Cricketers’ Association, the players’ union, have not had a presence at the trial.

The case continues.

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