Policeman guilty of killing ex-footballer Dalian Atkinson but cleared of murder

Police constable Benjamin Monk arrives at Birmingham Crown Court before being found guilty of manslaughter (Image: Anita Maric/SWNS)

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A police officer who Tasered ex-footballer Dalian Atkinson and then kicked him twice in the head has been cleared of murder but convicted of manslaughter.

Jurors took 18 hours and 48 minutes to reach unanimous verdicts on PC Benjamin Monk following a trial at Birmingham Crown Court.

The officer claimed he feared for his life when he encountered Atkinson, a former Aston Villa, Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich Town star, during a call in Telford, Shropshire on August 15, 2016.

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

Dalian Atkinson
(Image: PA)

Monk, 43, told the court he ran in fear after Atkinson, who appeared to be having a mental health crisis, made death threats and smashed a glass door pane at his childhood home.

Monk claimed the 48-year-old former Premier League star was trying to get up when he aimed kicks at his shoulder in lawful self-defence as a last resort, after running out of Taser cartridges.

Bettley-Smith, 31, had denied committing assault during the same incident.

Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith arrives at Birmingham Crown Court on Wednesday morning
(Image: Anita Maric/SWNS)

The court heard that she had struck Atkinson with a baton as he was Tasered to the ground.

Monk and Bettley-Smith both said during the trial they believed Atkinson was trying to get back to his feet and still posed a threat to them and others.

Counsel for Monk had claimed the ex-footballer was not motionless on the ground when he was kicked twice in the head "as a last resort" after the officer ran out of options.

Police at the scene following Mr Atkinson's death in Telford in 2016
(Image: PA)

And the defendant said Mr Atkinson told him: “I’m the f****** Messiah – your Taser won’t work. I’m going to take you to the gates of hell.”

Defence QC Patrick Gibbs also submitted that the length of a 33-second Taser deployment by Monk was the clearest evidence that it was delivered by mistake "in complete confusion and panic".

The standard length of a Taser deployment is five seconds, the court was told.

Dalian Atkinson poses for a photo while a member of Aston Villa in 1993
(Image: Getty Images)

Prosecutors had claimed Monk used unlawful and unreasonable force out of anger, prior to the death of Mr Atkinson, who suffered a cardiorespiratory arrest.

It was alleged that he had repeatedly stamped on Mr Atkinson's head and left imprints.

Judge Melbourne Inman QC had told the 11-strong jury that the Crown had to prove three elements for Monk to be guilty of murder – that the officer had used unlawful force, which caused death, and that he intended to kill Mr Atkinson or cause him really serious harm.

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