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

23 June 2021, 11:55 | Updated: 24 June 2021, 07:25

Monk, left, was convicted of Dalian Atkinson's (right) manslaughter
Monk, left, was convicted of Dalian Atkinson's (right) manslaughter. Picture: PA

By Will Taylor

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

West Mercia Police PC Benjamin Monk was cleared of his murder after a trial at Birmingham Crown Court.

Monk Tasered Mr Atkinson before kicking him twice in the head during an incident in August 15 2016.

He told the court he ran from the ex-pro, who seemed to be having a mental health crisis, made death threats and smashed a glass door pane at his childhood home in Telford, Shropshire.

Monk, 43, claimed Mr Atkinson was trying to get up when he aimed kicks at his shoulder in self-defence after he ran out of Taser cartridges.

But the former footballer went into cardiac arrest after being taken from the scene in an ambulance and pronounced dead at 2.45am, about an hour after he was Tasered.

Prosecutors said Monk lied about how many times he kicked Mr Atkinson's head.

Bootlace prints showed he had, and Monk conceded he must have kicked him twice in the forehead but insisted his actions were taken in self-defence as Mr Atkinson tried to get up,

Records show Monk deployed his Taser for 33 seconds, more than six times longer than the standard amount of time.

Jurors were told that they could find Monk, who has 14 years' experience in uniform, guilty of manslaughter if they were unsure he intended to cause serious harm but that the force used was an act any reasonable person would realise was bound to pose a risk of physical harm.

Jurors took 18 hours and 48 minutes to reach unanimous verdicts.

The jury is still deliberating on an assault charge against his colleague, PC Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, who was in a relationship with Monk at the time.

Reacting to the verdict, Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Jones, of West Mercia Police, said she was "sincerely sorry" and offered her "deep condolences" to Mr Atkinson's family, who had "demonstrated great dignity and strength throughout".

She said: "Words alone cannot express the deep regret and shock I feel that I must stand here and address you today because a West Mercia officer has been found to be criminally responsible for Dalian's death."

Ms Jones said the force did "not underestimate the impact of this case and today's verdict", which would be "wide-reaching and immeasurable".

She added the force had "much to do" to "strengthen those bonds" with the communities it served, following the verdict.

Monk will now be subject to a fast-track misconduct process, Ms Jones added.