Ben Stokes has been described as “mocking” a gay couple and speaking with “a spiteful” and “angry tone” by a witness in his trial in Bristol.
Andrew Cunningham, a 37-year-old door supervisor at the Mbargo nightclub in the city, alleged that Stokes abused him and a gay couple having been refused entry to the club in the early hours of the morning on September 25 on the second day of Stokes’ trial for affray. Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale are facing the same charges.
The jury was also shown CCTV footage that both Cunningham, the head doorman at the club, and PC Daniel Adams, the officer in the case, suggest shows Stokes flicking a cigarette butt at the head of one the gay men, William O’Connor.
“He got a bit verbally abusive to myself,” Cunningham said. “First he mentioned my teeth. I have four front gold teeth. He told me I looked like a c***. I replied ‘thanks very much.’
“Then he mentioned my tattoos and how shit they all are. He just looked at me and said my tattoos were shit and to look at my job. [He had] Quite a spiteful tone; quite an angry tone.”
Cunningham then went on to describe how “the ginger guy… started to take the mick out of the gay couple.”
“They’re quite extravagant people,” Cunningham said of O’Connor and his friend Kai Barry. “Their mannerisms are not like everybody else’s.
“The ginger guy picked up on this and started to take the mick. He changed his voice to talk like them. He started to mimic their actions. He just made noises to sound like them. He made hand gestures. If you hear them speak, they’re quite high-pitched guys. Quite effeminate guys. He made noises to try and copy them. Just making stupid sounds.
“They just stood to the side. I don’t think they were impressed but they didn’t say anything.
“When he flicked the cigarette I intervened. It didn’t hit anyone. But it was aimed in their direction. That’s when I stepped in, cos they hadn’t done anything wrong. They’re only little guys. I said ‘If you want to start on someone, start on me.’
“He wouldn’t look at me or acknowledge I was there then.”
Under cross-examination, Gordon Cole QC, representing Stokes, pointed out what he suggested were various inconsistencies with Cunningham’s evidence. It appears Cunningham or his colleagues did let in other visitors to the nightclub after 2am (CCTV footage shows O’Connor entering the club at 2.07am) while his claim that he had never seen the footage before conflicted with a statement given to the police on November 23 in which he said he had been shown it.
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PC Adams, the officer in the case, also admitted, under cross-examination, that “there may be another explanation” for the purported v-sign allegedly directed at the doormen and accepted that, “on the whole” Stokes’ interaction with the gay couple “seems light-hearted” and that “there is laughter” in the six or so minutes they are shown interacting with Stokes outside the club.