India in England 2018

Stokes mocked gay couple, court told as trial begins for affray charges in brawl outside pub

Stokes was involved in a “sustained episode of significant violence”, prosecutor Nicholas Corsellis told a jury

England cricketer Ben Stokes mocked a gay couple’s “camp behaviour” before losing his self-control and knocking two other men unconscious in a street fight last September, a court heard on Monday.

Stokes – on trial for alleged affray – acted in “revenge, retaliation or punishment” and was involved in a “sustained episode of significant violence”, prosecutor Nicholas Corsellis told a jury at Bristol Crown Court in southwest England.

Stokes, 27, who starred on Saturday as England beat India in a Test Match at Edgbaston, is accused of knocking out 27-year-old Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale, 28 in a brawl.

All three are on trial and each denies the charge of affray.

The cricket star had earlier gestured towards gay couple Kai Barry and William O’Connor, mimicking their voices, the court heard.

The fight took place outside a Bristol nightclub after 2:00am on September 25 last year, the prosecutor said, just hours after Stokes played in a one-day international win over the West Indies.

Stokes, Ali and Hale were all involved in threatening and/or using unlawful violence towards each other, it is alleged.

“During the incident, Mr Stokes lost his control and started to attack with revenge, retaliation or punishment in mind. Well beyond acting in self defence or defence of another,” Corsellis said.

“He knocked Mr Hale unconscious and then – after time to pause for thought, to calm – he did exactly the same to Mr Ali.

“Mr Ali received significant injuries including a fractured eye socket and required hospital treatment.”

- ‘Onlookers shocked’ -

The three accused all sat together in the dock.

“This was not a trivial moment of unpleasantness. It was a sustained episode of significant violence that left onlookers shocked,” Corsellis said.

“A bottle was used at the beginning by Mr Ali and a broken street sign brought into the fray towards the end by Mr Hale.”

The court heard that Stokes had been staying in a Bristol hotel with the England cricket team. He did not know the other two defendants, who were local and were friends.

Stokes and some England team-mates, including batsman Alex Hales, arrived at Mbargo nightclub at around 11:30pm. Stokes and Hales left at 12:46am and returned at 2:08am.

Told that the club was closed, Stokes first offered doorman Andrew Cunningham £60 ($78, 67 euros) to get back in, then £300. Stokes then began insulting the bouncer’s gold teeth and tattoos.

Described by the prosecution as two “flamboyant, extrovert and openly gay” regulars, Barry and O’Connor, then left the club. Footage showed they had had some contact with Stokes and Hales inside.

Cunningham saw Stokes “mimicking their voices and mannerisms” in a derogatory way, mocking their “camp behaviour”, the prosecutor said.

Security camera footage appeared to show Stokes copying hand gestures and flicking a cigarette at O’Connor’s head.

Ali and Hale left Mbargo at 2:23am and engaged in conversation with Barry and O’Connor, before Barry touched Ali’s groin and Ali pushed him away, jurors heard.

- Pair in hospital -

Footage appeared to show Ali raising a bottle and striking at Barry. Stokes then threw a punch towards Ali and the pair fell to the ground and grappled, the court heard.

As the brawl continued, Hales repeatedly tried to get Stokes to stop, the jury was told.

Ali was taken to hospital by ambulance and diagnosed with a fracture to the left of his face and a swollen left eye. He also had a cut and a cracked tooth.

Hale made his own way to the hospital. He had sustained a superficial cut and bruising.

Stokes was arrested at the scene.

“When being told by the officers the reason for his arrest, Stokes said that he had acted in the way that he did ‘because he was abusing my two friends for being gay’,” the prosecutor said.

He told police in a statement that he felt the need to defend himself as he thought he was going to be attacked.

The trial, expected to last between five and seven days, resumes at 10:30am (0930 GMT) on Tuesday.

Stokes has not been selected for the second Test between England and India, at Lord’s in London, which starts on Thursday.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

Play

This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.