Ben Stokes' alleged 'punch victim' is a former soldier
What's the story?
It has recently come to light that the man allegedly punched by England all-rounder Ben Stokes is a former soldier. Ryan Hale, the alleged victim, is a 26-year-old from Bristol who had served as a squaddie with the British Army on a tour of Afghanistan in 2013.
"It is not okay and it is not something that happens on a daily basis. It is not something you expect to happen. But I don’t want to comment on it as I think it is up to the police to do their job and carry out their investigation. I don’t want to say anything to discredit anyone. But you have clearly seen the video footage. I just know there was a fracas and I have seen the video," Ryan's mother Angela was quoted as saying to Mail Online.
However, a barman privy to the proceedings claimed that the group of men who were involved in the scuffle had earlier instigated another confrontation. Amantas, an employee at Steinbeck & Shaw, insisted, "I was walking down Park Street close to The Triangle (close to where Stokes got arrested) when this group of lads approached us. They were really hyped up and they were troublemakers. They were judging our outfits and saying 'Oi Oi'. I can't remember what exact insults were used. There were maybe five or six of them and they looked in their twenties. They were looking for a fight. But I wasn't and I had been drinking too."
When video footage of the brawl was released by The Sun, the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) immediately reacted by suspending Stokes as well as fellow teammate Alex Hales (who had also been on the scene of the incident) until further notice.
The heart of the matter
Detectives from Avon and Somerset Police are currently investigating the matter. They have confirmed that discussions with all material witnesses relating to the scuffle will be held in the coming days following which charges could be pressed against Stokes if he is presumed guilty.
In the video footage, Stokes can be seen repeatedly punching a man whilst pinning him to the ground as well. Despite Hales's earnest attempts at calming him down, the Durham cricketer refused to pay heed to his England teammates requests and continued throwing punches at the victim. Even as investigations began, Stokes was subsequently released by the police after spending the night in prison.
Even though he has been named in the Ashes squad, Stokes' immediate career is in serious jeopardy. If he is convicted in a case of actual bodily harm, the 26-year-old faces the possibility of a five-year prison sentence.
Although the video footage does not paint a pretty picture for Stokes, it is more prudent to wait till the investigation runs its course before jumping to premature conclusions.