Dalian Atkinson: Ex-footballer 'staggered' towards accused PC

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image copyrightGetty Images
image captionFormer Aston Villa striker Dalian Atkinson died due to cardio-respiratory arrest in 2016 in Telford, Shropshire, at the age of 48

Former footballer Dalian Atkinson appeared to stagger at two police officers before one deployed a Taser, a court heard.

PC Benjamin Monk is charged with murdering the 48-year-old after the exchange in Shropshire in 2016.

Witnesses said they saw him and co-accused PC Mary-Ellen Bettley Smith run away from Mr Atkinson "as fast as they could" on the night of 15 August.

Both officers from West Mercia Police deny any wrongdoing.

image copyrightPA Media
image captionMary Ellen Bettley-Smith (L) and Benjamin Monk (R) are on trial at Birmingham Crown Court

On the fifth day of their trial at Birmingham Crown Court, jurors heard from David Lewis, a resident of Meadow Close, Telford, where Mr Atkinson had arrived to visit his father at about 01:30 BST.

He described the former Villa striker's mood as "very unstable" before PCs Monk and Bettley-Smith arrived, and recalled him kicking at his father's door.

When the officers appeared, Mr Atkinson "started to walk towards them," Mr Lewis said. "When they got to the end of the driveway, they ran down the road as if they were frightened of something.

"Dalian suddenly started to almost run - he suddenly changed his pace of walking."

Although Mr Lewis did not see PC Monk discharge his Taser, he saw Mr Atkinson fall and a female officer raising a baton above her head and bringing it down twice.

image copyrightReuters
image captionDalian Atkinson started his career at Ipswich Town before moving to Sheffield Wednesday, Real Sociedad, Aston Villa and Fenerbahçe

The court previously heard how data from PC Monk's Taser revealed how after two failed discharges, it had been deployed for more than 30 seconds - six times longer than is standard.

Imprints of the officer's bootlaces were also found on Mr Atkinson's head from where he had been kicked.

Mr Atkinson died at about 02:45 that morning. The court heard previously that the sportsman had a number of underlying health conditions but pathologists agreed he would have survived "were it not for the third Taser deployment and the kicks to his head".

image copyrightHelen Tipper
image captionPC Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith faces a charge of assault, while PC Benjamin Monk is charged with murder

Jurors were also read a written statement from Mr Lewis' late wife, Janet.

She recounted in her testimony seeing PC Monk appear to kick Mr Atkinson in a way "similar to a footballer kicking a football with substantial force".

Her statement also said how "even with my window closed I could hear the strikes administered with her [PC Bettley-Smith's] baton impacting on Dalian's body and clothing".

One of the first two police officers to arrive after Mr Atkinson was tasered told the court he heard PC Monk tell paramedics the ex-footballer "may be a bit bloody as I had to kick him".

Defence QC Patrick Gibbs asked Pc Mark Bedford, who no longer works for the force, if the comment by PC Monk about the former striker being kicked to the head would have been useful information for paramedics to know.

He answered: "I would presume so. They would need to know the injuries he had got."

PC Monk, 42, denies murder and manslaughter. PC Bettley-Smith, 31, denies assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

The trial continues.

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