12 ‘possible’ contributory factors in ex-footballer’s death, jury hears
The death of former Ipswich Town footballer Dalian Atkinson could have been influenced by 12 possible contributory factors, a murder trial has been told.
Prosecutors allege Pc Benjamin Monk, 42 - who denies murder and manslaughter - and 31-year-old Pc Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, who denies assault, unlawfully attacked Mr Atkinson near his father’s home in Telford, Shropshire, on August 15 2016.
Jurors at Birmingham Crown Court have heard the 48-year-old, who also played for Aston Villa and Sheffield Wednesday, went into cardiorespiratory arrest and died in hospital after being brought to the ground by a Taser and then kicked and struck with a baton.
Giving evidence for a second day on Tuesday, forensic pathologist Dr Olaf Biedrzycki said a “key” issue for jurors to determine was whether Atkinson was conscious when he was kicked twice in the head.
Dr Biedrzycki told the court on Monday that Atkinson was left with two “patterned” footwear marks on his forehead and 15 areas of “under-the-skin” bruising.
Resuming his testimony on Tuesday, Dr Biedrzycki was asked to comment on 12 “potential and possible” contributory factors put to him by Monk’s barrister, Patrick Gibbs QC.
An enlarged heart, end-stage kidney disease and physical exertion could have contributed to the former Blues' star's death, he said - as could the pain caused by the use of the taser.
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Dr Biedrzycki told the court that Atkinson’s enlarged heart meant he could have passed away in his sleep at any time, or have died “if somebody had looked at him in a funny way in the street”.
The pathologist, who was also asked for his opinions on the impact of the force applied during restraint and handcuffing, told the jury: “I would agree that in addition to the kicks and tasering, the cardinal things are heart and kidney disease.
“This is a case where the key for you guys is to determine whether he was conscious when the kicks were applied.
“If he was conscious then the kicks rendered him unconscious and that was a dangerous situation.
“If he had been knocked unconscious by a Taser-related fall, the kicks … may have prolonged his period of unconsciousness.”
Questioned further by Mr Gibbs, Dr Biedrzycki added: “You can’t know what will happen had the kicks and the Taser not occurred, but I think they are significant factors in the case.”
The trial continues on Wednesday.