Dalian Atkinson: PC guilty of former footballer’s manslaughter

Dalian Atkinson
Dalian Atkinson died aged 48 on 15 August 2016

A police officer has been found guilty of the manslaughter of ex-footballer Dalian Atkinson.

The former Aston Villa striker died after a stand-off with West Mercia police officers outside his father’s home in Telford, Shropshire in 2016.

PC Benjamin Monk, 43, was cleared at Birmingham Crown Court of an alternative charge of murder.

Mr Atkinson’s family said justice had been done and hoped he would be remembered for his life, not his death.

Monk’s trial had heard he tasered Mr Atkinson for 33 seconds and kicked him twice in the head.

He denied any wrongdoing and said he believed there was a danger to life for him and his colleague.

PC Monk arrives at court on 17 June
PC Benjamin Monk was found guilty of the manslaughter of Mr Atkinson but cleared of his murder (Image: PA Media)

Mr Atkinson began his career at Ipswich Town before moving to Sheffield Wednesday, Real Sociedad and Aston Villa.

Following a six-week-trial, jurors took 18 hours and 48 minutes to reach unanimous verdicts on Monk, who has 14 years’ service.

In a statement, Mr Atkinson’s family said he was “much missed” by his family and friends and the footballing communities of the clubs he played for.

“The past five years have been an ordeal for Dalian’s family,” they said.

“We are hugely relieved that the whole country now knows the truth about how Dalian died.

“While it has been hard for us not to be able to talk about the details of Dalian’s death, it has been even harder to sit through this trial and to hear PC Monk try to justify the force he used.”

They said his footballing talent “led him to achieve great things in his life”.

“Our sincere hope is that now that the truth about his death is known, and justice has been done, we can start to remember him not for the manner in which he died, but for the way in which he lived,” the statement added.

Dalian Atkinson in his Ipswich Town kit
Atkinson started his career at Ipswich Town, before moving to Sheffield Wednesday, Real Sociedad, Aston Villa and Fenerbahçe (Image: Ipswich Town)

Jurors are still deliberating on an assault charge relating to Monk’s colleague and former girlfriend, PC Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, 31.

The trial heard how the two officers were called to Mr Atkinson’s father’s house in Meadow Close in the early hours of 15 August, where the the sportsman had been acting erratically.

Monk told the court he ran in fear after Mr Atkinson, who appeared to be having a mental health crisis, made death threats and smashed a glass door pane.

The trial heard Monk had discharged his Taser three times at Mr Atkinson, twice unsuccessfully, but on the third time he overrode the system, holding down the trigger for 33 seconds – more than six times the standard deployment.

The officer claimed to have no recollection of placing his foot on Mr Atkinson’s head as colleagues arrived at the scene.

However he conceded he must have kicked the ex-footballer twice in the forehead, because bootlace prints proved he had.

Monk maintained his actions were lawful self-defence, made necessary when the former Premier League star tried to get up.

Mr Atkinson, who had a number of underlying health conditions, went into cardiac arrest after being taken from the scene in an ambulance, and was pronounced dead in hospital at 02:45 BST – about an hour after he was tasered.

According to the charity Inquest, no police officer has been found guilty of murder or manslaughter over a death in custody or following police contact in England and Wales since the 1980s.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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