Dalian Atkinson killing: Police officer jailed for 8 years for manslaughter of footballer

29 June 2021, 14:30 | Updated: 29 June 2021, 15:23

PC Benjamin Monk has been sentenced for the manslaughter of Dalian Atkinson
PC Benjamin Monk has been sentenced for the manslaughter of Dalian Atkinson. Picture: PA Images
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

A police officer has been jailed for eight years after being found guilty of the manslaughter of football star Dalian Atkinson.

Benjamin Monk was last week cleared of murder but convicted of manslaughter after a trial heard he tasered Mr Atkinson to the ground and continued to use the weapon for 33-seconds before kicking him twice in the head.

The officer, who denied both charges, said he could only recall aiming one kick at the shoulder during the incident, which took place outside the childhood home of the former Aston Villa, Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich Town star in Telford, Shropshire, in 2016.

READ MORE: Police officer found guilty of ex-Aston Villa footballer Dalian Atkinson's manslaughter

Passing sentence on Monk, 43, at Birmingham Crown Court, Judge Melbourne Inman QC said: "You have let yourself and the force down.

"Although they were difficult, you failed to act appropriately in the circumstances as they developed and you used a degree of force in delivering two kicks to the head, which was excessive and which were a cause of Mr Atkinson's death.

"The obvious aggravating factor is that you committed this offence while on duty as a police officer."

PC Benjamin Monk tasered Dalian Atkinson to the floor before kicking him in the head
PC Benjamin Monk tasered Dalian Atkinson to the floor before kicking him in the head. Picture: PA Images

The judge added: "The police play a central and important role in upholding the rule of law in our society. The sentence must reflect the importance of maintaining public confidence in our police."

Monk, who the judge accepted had shown genuine remorse, was ordered to serve two-thirds of his eight-year sentence before being entitled to release on licence.

Monk, who denied murder and manslaughter, claimed to have acted in reasonable self-defence while "terrified" of 48-year-old Mr Atkinson, who had a heart condition, was undergoing dialysis treatment, and was smaller and lighter than the officer.

Birmingham Crown Court was told on Monday that Monk kept his job with West Mercia Police in 2011 after being found to have breached required standards for honesty and integrity.

He was previously found guilty of gross misconduct after failing to mention two cautions on his application to join the force.

The judge was told the two cautions issued to him in 1997 and 1999 - for theft from a shop during a summer holiday job and for being found drunk - were not disclosed on his application papers in 2001.

Addressing the court earlier this week, prosecutor Alexandra Healy QC said: "Mr Monk was cautioned for theft from a shop as an employee - he was employed at the time at Woolworths in 1997.

"There was a further caution in 1999 for being found drunk."

Dalian Atkinson's family read out impact statements in court
Dalian Atkinson's family read out impact statements in court. Picture: PA Images

The court was told the warnings were not recorded on a computer system because of policies at the time for dealing with spent cautions.

During submissions from Monk's QC, Patrick Gibbs, Judge Inman said the cautions were of no relevance "in the circumstances of the case" and he would treat the officer as being of previous good character when he is sentenced.

After family victim impact statements were read to the court on behalf of Mr Atkinson's four siblings and his partner, Mr Gibbs claimed the PC's mental health had been profoundly affected by the case.

He told the judge: "As you can imagine, Mr Monk has thought about Mr Atkinson... every day for the last four years and 10 months - reliving in his mind how these events might have ended differently.

"Perhaps there won't ever be a day when he doesn't think about that."

Mr Gibbs said it was agreed the officer went to the scene "for the best of reasons" before 59 seconds during which his conduct had been found to be unlawful.

"The 59 seconds stand not just at odds with the previous five minutes, not just at odds with the previous five years, but at odds with the whole of his police career. In fact, at odds with the whole of his adult life."

Among the statements read to the court by Ms Healy in tribute to Mr Atkinson was one from his sister Otis.

She told the court: "She describes Dalian not just being her little brother but her friend. He was kind and loving throughout his childhood."

Otis said: "He brought so much life and energy into any room that he entered. He would say what no one else would dare - but far from causing offence he would make us laugh at ourselves."