Shropshire

Dalian Atkinson: PCs charged over footballer's death named

Dalian Atkinson Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Dalian Atkinson played for Aston Villa, Ipswich Town and Sheffield Wednesday

A court order protecting the identity of two police officers charged in connection with the death of Dalian Atkinson has been lifted by a judge.

The ex-Aston Villa striker, 48, died after he was restrained by police and Tasered at his father's house in Telford, Shropshire, in 2016.

West Mercia Police constable Benjamin Monk is charged with murder.

A second officer, Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, is charged with assault causing actual bodily harm.

Judge Simon Drew QC, sitting at Birmingham Crown Court, overturned the Contempt of Court Act order, allowing the naming of the officers after submissions by media organisations.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Police constables Benjamin Monk and Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith arriving at Birmingham Crown Court earlier

Both officers were present at the hearing, at which their lawyers agreed that anonymity could not be justified, instead arguing that their home addresses should not be revealed in media reports.

The officers had been granted the interim order banning publication of their names last week after it was argued there were risks to their safety.

Lawyers acting for six media organisations argued that the anonymity orders were an "unjustified" and represented a serious interference with common law open justice principles.

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An alternative charge of an unlawful act manslaughter has been put forward by the CPS for PC Monk.

PC Bettley-Smith has indicated that she will plead not guilty.

The 29-year-old officer and her 41-year-old colleague are both from Shropshire, but a court order prevents the media from reporting their home addresses.

Mr Atkinson, who also played for Ipswich and Sheffield Wednesday, was detained outside an address in Trench, Telford at about 01:30 on 15 August 2016.

He was taken by ambulance to the Princess Royal Hospital, where he died.

Both defendants are next expected to appear in court on 9 December for a plea and trial preparation hearing.

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