Dalian Atkinson: Police officer guilty of manslaughter of former professional footballer

 Dalian Atkinson

A West Mercia police officer has been found guilty of the manslaughter of former Aston Villa footballer Dalian Atkinson in Telford in 2016, but has been cleared of his murder.

PC Benjamin Monk used his taser on Mr Atkinson for more than six times the recommended time and once he was on the ground, kicked him so hard that imprints of his boot laces were left on Mr. Atkinson’s forehead.

The jury at Birmingham Crown Court is continuing to deliberate on a second West Mercia police officer, who is accused of causing Mr Atkinson actual bodily harm.

Who was Dalian Atkinson?

Dalian Atkinson was a former footballer with Aston Villa between 1991 and 1995.

Villa’s former manager Ron Atkinson paid tribute to him.

Ron Atkinson, Former manager, Aston Villa said: "In big games, he was always there. He was a big player in big games...At another time he'd have been well considered for the England team. In the big games, he always pulled out the stops."

After his football career ended in 2001, Dalian Atkinson battled ill health, suffering from high blood pressure, end-stage kidney failure and a thickening of the heart muscles.

Dalian Atkinson died after being tasered following an altercation at his father's home in Telford. Credit: PA

What happened in August 2016?

Just before 1.30 in the morning on August 15 2016, Atkinson became agitated and drove his girlfriend's Porsche to his father's house at Meadow Close in the Trench area of Telford. 

When he reached the drive he began shouting that he was the Messiah and demanded to be let in. 

A concerned neighbour called the police and PC Benjamin Monk responded.

Dalian Atkinson opened the front door and confronted the officer on the drive. 

During the next few minutes, PC Monk fired his taser three times.

What did the trial hear?

PC Monk told his trial that he was "absolutely petrified" during the confrontation and that Dalian Atkinson had said: "I'm taking you to the gates of hell". 

After two unsuccessful attempts, the third Taser cartridge PC Monk fired did work and the former footballer fell to the ground.

The jury was told PC Monk held down the trigger of the high-voltage stun gun for 33 seconds - more than six times longer than the recommended 5 seconds.

The jury was shown computer-generated post-mortem injury images which, said the prosecution, suggested Dalian Atkinson had been kicked at least twice in the head, once he was on the ground. 

In an interview, eleven days after the incident, PC Monk remembered things differently. 

But investigations revealed triangular patches on Dalian Atkinson's head - patterns which appeared to match the laces on PC Monk's boots. 

The jury was shown computer-generated post-mortem injury images.

The jury decided those kicks were an excessive use of force. They cleared PC Monk of murder but convicted him of manslaughter.

Within a few minutes, more than a dozen police officers had descended on Meadow Close, but by then Dalian Atkinson's condition had deteriorated.

Dalian Atkinson was taken to the Emergency Department at the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford but went into cardiac arrest and died at 2:44 am - some 70 minutes after his encounter with PC Monk.

The Charity Inquest says he is the first officer in 35 years to have been found guilty of murder or manslaughter following a death in police custody or following police contact in England or Wales.

  • A statement has been delivered by Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Jones, West Mercia Police, on PC Monk's conviction.