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Pc ‘rested’ his foot on Dalian Atkinson’s head as colleague arrived, court told

·3-min read

A policeman accused of murdering Dalian Atkinson had his foot “gently resting” on the former footballer’s head after he was tasered, one of the officer’s colleagues has told a jury.

Pc Benjamin Monk, who denies murder and manslaughter, is alleged to have used unlawful force by kicking the ex-Aston Villa player in the head, while Pc Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith is accused of assaulting the 48-year-old with a baton.

A trial at Birmingham Crown Court has heard that Atkinson died after being tasered three times near his father’s home in Meadow Close, Telford, Shropshire, in August 2016.

Dalian Atkinson death
West Mercia Police Constables Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith and Benjamin Monk arriving at court (Jacob King/PA)

Giving evidence from the witness box in the second week of the hearing, Pc Samuel Wright said he arrived at the scene in a van with another West Mercia Police constable.

Pc Wright told the jury: “We saw Pc Monk and Pc Bettley-Smith and the two other officers that arrived before, with Mr Atkinson lying on the floor.

“He was lying face down, head towards me.”

Pc Wright said Pc Monk was standing by Atkinson’s head, with the cables of his Taser running towards the retired footballer.

Saying Atkinson was initially still struggling before later becoming quiet, Pc Wright told the court: “I remember his left hand being above his head and his right hand being by his right hand side.

“Pc Monk was stood towards his head with a Taser in his hand and with one of his feet gently resting on Mr Atkinson’s head.

“Pc Monk was shouting instructions towards Mr Atkinson. ‘Stay still, put your arms behind your back’ – stuff like that.”

Pc Wright, who assisted in handcuffing Mr Atkinson, told the court he recalled the ex-footballer making a “growling” noise.

Dalian Atkinson File Photo
Dalian Atkinson, pictured in 1991, during his time at Aston Villa (PA)

Under cross-examination by defence counsel, Pc Wright said Atkinson, who also played for Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich Town, was struggling while on the ground.

Richard Smith QC, defending Bettley-Smith, asked Pc Wright: “This was a man who you perceived still posed a threat and required the application of handcuffs?”

Pc Wright answered: “Yes.”

The officer added that his perception had changed after the “growling” sound stopped.

Jurors also heard the evidence of Pc Wright’s crewmate, Pc Julia Hiller.

She told the trial, which is expected to last for up to eight weeks: “The Taser, from what I can remember, was still attached to the person on the floor.

“From my recollection, he was face down on the floor, maybe slightly on his right side. I remember at some point at the scene there being some kind of gurgling noise.

“He was semi-conscious. He was just moving, making small movements as he was on the floor.”

Pc Hiller added that she was not involved in subsequent checks on Atkinson’s wellbeing, but had been aware of an ambulance arriving at the scene.

At the start of the trial, the QC acting for Pc Monk said the officer does not dispute kicking Atkinson twice in the head – but did so while he was “terrified”.

Police Sergeant Gemma Bridgwood, who was a constable at the time of the incident, was also called as a witness on Tuesday.

She said handcuffs were not removed from Mr Atkinson after a discussion among officers, who had found he still had a pulse.

Describing her impression of a radio transmission sent by Bettley-Smith, Sgt Bridgwood said: “I formed the assumption that something wasn’t right. In my opinion she sounded frightened.”

Recalling what she had seen and heard after arriving at the scene, Sgt Bridgwood added: “Pc Monk was stood with his foot, I’m not certain whether it was on Mr Atkinson’s head or his shoulder… but his foot was resting on part of Mr Atkinson’s body in that area.”

The female officer, who did not hear Mr Atkinson speak, said Pc Monk’s foot had been placed “as though to stop the male standing up”.

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