Dalian Atkinson: PC Benjamin Monk jailed for 8 years for the manslaughter of ex-footballer
A West Mercia police officer found guilty of the manslaughter of Aston Villa player Dalian Atkinson has been sentenced to 8 years in prison.
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.
On Wednesday 23 June, the jury at Birmingham Crown Court found PC Monk guilty of manslaughter, but cleared him of murder.
According to the charity Inquest, Monk is the first police officer in England and Wales to be found guilty of unlawful killing over a death in custody or following police contact since 1986.
Dalian Atkinson was a former footballer with Aston Villa between 1991 and 1995.
During the sentencing, which lasted two days, the family of Dalian Atkinson spoke of the "trauma."
His partner Karen Atkinson said his death has made her feel paranoid with an intrinsic distrust for the law, and she spoke of nightmares and flashbacks.
“The last five years have been the most difficult and stressful of my life”
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.
Just before 1.30am on 15 August 2016, Atkinson became agitated and drove his girlfriend's Porsche to his father's house at Meadow Close in the Trench area of Telford in Shropshire.
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.
PC Monk told his trial that he was acting in self defence and 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.
The jury decided those kicks were an excessive use of force. They cleared PC Monk of murder but convicted him of manslaughter.
During the two-day sentencing it emerged on Monday (28 June) that Monk had been found guilty of gross misconduct five years before he killed Mr Atkinson.
He failed to mention two cautions on his application form to join the West Mercia force in 2001.
The court heard that he kept his job in February 2011 - a year after details of the cautions came to light - despite being found to have breached required standards for honesty and integrity.
Addressing the court, prosecutor Alexandra Healy QC said: "Mr Monk was cautioned for theft from a shop as an employee - he was employed at the time at Woolworths in 1997.
"There was a further caution in 1999 for being found drunk."
The court was told the warnings were not recorded on a computer system because of policies at the time for dealing with spent cautions.
In a statement, Assistant Chief Constable of West Mercia Police Rachel Jones said: “Today Judge Melbourne Inman QC has sentenced PC Ben Monk to eight years for the manslaughter of Dalian Atkinson.“Dalian’s death devastated all those who knew and loved him, and we acknowledge that no judicial process or outcome will bring back the man they loved. I want to say again to Dalian’s family and friends, I am sincerely sorry for his death and for the tragic circumstances in which he died.“As I have said previously, we do not underestimate the significant damage this case has done to our relationships with communities and I therefore reiterate our absolute commitment to repairing trust where it has been broken.“Once again, I extend my sincere apologies and condolences to Dalian’s family and friends.”