Dalian Atkinson murder trial: accused police officer feared he would die

Dalian Atkinson, Ipswich v Middlesborugh
April 1988

Dalian Atkinson, Ipswich v Middlesborugh April 1988 - Credit: Archant

The police officer accused of murdering ex-Ipswich Town football star Dalian Atkinson told a jury he was "terrified" he and his colleague "were going to die" during the encounter.

Prosecutors claim West Mercia Police Constable Benjamin Monk, who denies murder and manslaughter, used unlawful and unreasonable force during a final 33-second firing of the Taser, and by then kicking former Town striker Atkinson in the head.

Jurors have been told three Taser cartridges were deployed by Monk before Mr Atkinson, who later died in hospital, was handcuffed near his father's home in Meadow Close, Telford, Shropshire, in the early hours of August 15, 2016.

Dalian Atkinson, who died in 2016 after receiving a taser shock

Dalian Atkinson, who died in 2016 after receiving a taser shock Picture: OWEN HINES

Giving evidence for the first time in his defence at Birmingham Crown Court today (June 2) Monk said he felt "a big relief" when Mr Atkinson was floored after being tasered the third time.

Two previous Taser strikes had been ineffective, he told the jury, leaving him with his third, and final, cartridge.

Monk said Mr Atkinson allegedly told him, during the incident, that 100,000 volts wouldn't harm him because he was the messiah and  "I'm going to take you to the gates of hell".

Asked how he felt after the second Taser strike failed, the officer of then 14 years' service, said: "I remember just thinking, 'we're done for'."

West Mercia Police Constables Benjamin Monk (right) and Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith (left) arrive at Bi

West Mercia Police Constables Benjamin Monk (right) and Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith (left) arrive at Birmingham Crown Court to stand trial - Credit: Jacob King/PA Wire

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Patrick Gibbs QC, Monk's barrister, asked the officer what he did next. He replied: "Ran for my life - we ran away", something he told jurors he had never done in his entire career.

The 43-year-old said: "He (Mr Atkinson) was very, very scary."

"And the device which I thought might work for me, hadn't worked and I was terrified."

Monk and a junior colleague, with whom he was in a relationship at the time, Pc Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, backed away from Atkinson, in the residential close, while waiting for more officers to arrive.

Atkinson made 64 appearances for Town and scored 21 goals in a four-year spell from 1985 to 1989.  

The Blues sold the striker to Sheffield Wednesday in 1989 for £450,000.

Both officers had been sent to the house after members of the public called 999, soon after Mr Atkinson arrived, reporting a concern for the welfare of the elderly occupant.

During the first two failed Taser strikes, Bettley-Smith called for back-up, activating her emergency button, calling all available units to the location.

Monk described hearing one of the back-up units radioing to tell the pair they were still "six minutes" away.

He said: "That is a transmission I definitely remember, because it struck absolute fear in me to think the nearest crew was so far away."

After the third Taser felled Mr Atkinson he still believed the former soccer star was trying to get up.

Asked what he did, Monk told the court: "I kicked him." He believed he had kicked the 48-year-old "in the shoulder" although said the kick was "instinctive".

Bettley-Smith, 31, is also on trial, and denies a charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, by using her force-issue extendable baton.

The trial continues.

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