Dalian Atkinson: PC accused of assaulting ex-footballer feared 'she was in real danger'

5 May 2021, 13:49 | Updated: 5 May 2021, 16:00

PC Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith is accused of assaulting ex-football star Dalian Atkinson moments before his death
PC Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith is accused of assaulting ex-football star Dalian Atkinson moments before his death. Picture: PA Images
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

A police officer accused of assaulting ex-footballer Dalian Atkinson moments before his death "thought that she was in real danger", a court has heard.

During the second day of the trial of PC Benjamin Monk, who denies murdering the former Aston Villa player, and PC Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, accused of assault, jurors heard she was concerned the ex-footballer "started to try to turn over and to pull out" the wires from taser rounds he had been shot with.

Prosecution barrister Alexandra Healy QC, describing the account PC Bettley-Smith gave to investigators after the incident, said: "She asserted that he having been put to the ground, Mr Atkinson started to try to turn over and to pull out, or try to pull out, the Taser wires and she said he was shouting and swearing.

READ MORE: Murder-accused PC 'kicked ex-footballer and overused taser', court hears

"She said she struck Mr Atkinson on the legs with her baton, because she maintained he was attempting to get up and, at that stage, PC Monk kicked him."

The former footballer was allegedly subjected to at least three taser rounds, beating on the legs and a kick in the head as if PC Monk "was kicking a football".

Both officers were interviewed under caution in August 2016 and in January 2017, where PC Monk claimed Mr Atkinson threatened to take him "to the gates of hell", jurors at Birmingham Crown Court heard on Wednesday.

PC Benjamin Monk (right), who is accused of murdering ex-football star Dalian Atkinson
PC Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith and PC Benjamin Monk, who is accused of murdering ex-football star Dalian Atkinson. Picture: PA Images

The trial heard on Tuesday that Mr Atkinson, who also played for Ipswich Town and Sheffield Wednesday, went into cardiac arrest and died in August 2016 in Telford, Shropshire, after a Taser was deployed for six times longer than is standard.

Summarising what PC Monk, 42, said to investigators, prosecution QC Alexandra Healy told the court: "He described how when he was approaching (Mr Atkinson's father's house) he was aware of a very loud row taking place within the property, with one voice much louder than the other.

"He explained that when Mr Atkinson appeared at the doorway of the house he was in an obvious rage and said 'This is the Messiah'.

"He said he produced the Taser, but Mr Atkinson, who Pc Monk did not know, was apparently unconcerned when presented with the Taser, saying, 'I am going to take you to the gates of hell'.

"Pc Monk was, he said, fearful for himself, his partner and whoever was in (the property)."

The jury also heard claims that PC Monk told colleagues he had kicked him in the head.

The prosecution said the officer, in conversation with colleagues at the scene, said "he had tasered the male on the floor twice with no effect".

"He then said he deployed his Taser for a third time," she added, "he also admitted kicking the male in the head."

By the time a police sergeant arrived on the scene in Meadow Close, Telford, at about 1:45am on 15 August 2016, Mr Atkinson was handcuffed and unresponsive.

Police officers have described being fearful while responding to an incident involving Dalian Atkinson
Police officers have described being fearful while responding to an incident involving Dalian Atkinson. Picture: PA Images

As part of the Crown's opening address, Ms Healy said of the sergeant, who transmitted an urgent request for an ambulance: "He attempted to speak to him (Mr Atkinson) but he was unresponsive.

"He noted a small amount of blood where his head had been lying.

"He also noted two wires extending from his chest where he had been tasered. He checked his pulse on his neck and noticed that it appeared to be very weak."

Ms Healy continued: "The paramedics attended to Dalian Atkinson. It was noted that he was not in cardiac arrest. He was breathing and had a radial pulse of approximately 40-50 beats per minute.

"They tried to communicate with him but they could get no verbal response from him.

"Officers assisted the paramedics in lifting Dalian onto a trolley and he was then taken back up the close to the ambulance where further medical checks were carried out."

The court heard a police constable "was concerned that Mr Atkinson might be feigning illness" so handcuffs were not removed, and he went into the ambulance with his arms behind his back.

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