Ben Stokes Pleads Not Guilty to Affray, To Join England This Week
Ben Stokes’ alleged involvement in an altercation outside a nightclub had cost him his place in the Ashes tour.
England all-rounder Ben Stokes, accused of involvement in an altercation outside a nightclub that cost him his place in the Ashes tour, pleaded not guilty to a charge of affray in court on Tuesday, 13 February.
The 26-year-old cricketer, who missed the trip to Australia after being suspended from playing for England, appeared at a magistrates' court in the southwestern city of Bristol along with Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale.
The cricketer will now be joining his England teammates in New Zealand, later this week, confirmed the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).
"Having entered his plea at Bristol Magistrates Court today, Ben Stokes will now travel to New Zealand to join the England squad," the ECB said in a statement.
It follows the altercation during the early hours of 25 September, last year, several hours after England had played a one-day international against the West Indies in the city.
It is alleged a 27-year-old man suffered a fractured eye socket in the incident at which fellow England cricketer Alex Hales was also present. Hales faced no charges.
Ali, Stokes and Hale spoke to confirm their names, dates of births, addresses and nationalities. The clerk read out the charges and all three defendants indicated not guilty pleas.
Stokes is accused jointly with Ali and Hale of using or threatening unlawful violence towards another person.
The charge states that his "conduct was such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his personal safety". The other two defendants face the same charge.
All three defendants elected to be tried by a jury at a crown court.
"I have decided that your trial will take place at the crown court at Bristol. The first hearing date will be March 12," said District Judge Simon Cooper. "You will be on bail." Without Stokes, England lost the Ashes to Australia 4-0.
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