Dalian Atkinson's girlfriend says killer PC testimony is 'haunting'

Dalian Atkinson’s grieving girlfriend says she’s ‘haunted’ with thought killer PC was ‘one of the last voices ex-Aston Villa star heard as he took final breath’

  • Dalian Atkinson’s girlfriend Karen Wright, 49, says he was ‘hounded’ by police
  • Benjamin Monk, 43, will be sentenced tomorrow for Mr Atkinson’s manslaughter
  • First UK officer in 35 years to be guilty of unlawfully killing a member of public 
  • Former Ipswich and Villa star’s family compare death to murder of George Floyd 

Dalian Atkinson’s grieving girlfriend has said the thought a killer police officer’s voice was the last thing the the ex-Premier League footballer heard is ‘haunting’.

Karen Wright, 49, likened the former Aston Villa, Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich Town striker’s death to the police killing of George Floyd in the US.

West Mercia Police PC Benjamin Monk, 43, will be sentenced tomorrow after being convicted of manslaughter on Wednesday.

He killed Mr Atkinson by blasting him with a Taser three times and then kicking him twice in the head. 

The case is believed to be the first time an officer has faced a murder charge after a person was Tasered by police — and it is the first time in 35 years that a police officer has been convicted of manslaughter committed in the course of his duties.

A jury at Birmingham Crown Court was discharged on Thursday after failing to reach a verdict on Monk’s at the-time-lover West Mercia probationary constable Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, 31, who was accused of assaulting with her baton while he was on the ground.

Ms Wright said officers told the family ‘it was either the Taser or the tickle stick’, referring to a police baton, moments before Mr Atkinson’s death.

Dalian Atkinson’s grieving girlfriend Karen Wright, 49, has said the former Premier League footballer was sick of being ‘hounded’ by police before his death at the hand of police constable Benjamin Monk, 43, in 2016

Benjamin Monk, 43, and Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, 31, at Birmingham Crown Court in 2019

Speaking to the Sunday Mirror, she said: ‘Dee was just a gorgeous soul. He’s had life-long harassment from the police. He felt as though he was hounded by police.

‘He was doing nothing wrong. The police were the last people he needed on the night he died. They inflamed the situation.’

She said she has been angry for five years while waiting for justice for the killing in Telford, Shropshire,  in Telford, Shropshire, on August 15, 2016.

Ms Wright described the wait as ‘torture’ and attended George Floyd protests while holding banners saying ‘Justice for Dalian’.

The mother-of-two, who runs a cleaning business, met Mr Atkinson when they were 17.

They split after ten years but reunited when Mr Atkinson turned 40 after he contacted her on Facebook.

Legal representatives for the Atkinson family read a statement alongside Kenroy Atkinson, brother of Dalian, and his wife Julie (right), outside Birmingham Crown Court

PC Benjamin Monk discharged a Taser on Atkinson and kicked him twice in the head, while PC Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith hit him with a baton (they are seen arriving at court on Wednesday)

Ms Wright said the ‘compassionate’ ex-footballer would run her baths and look after her, and lover her two boys from a different father.

She said she would have married him ‘in a heartbeat’ and he was the ‘man of my dreams’.

But listening to Monk claim he was ‘absolutely petrified’ when he killed unarmed Mr Atkinson was haunting, according to Ms Wright.

She said: ‘Hearing Monk try to justify what he did was really difficult. It haunts me. It’s one of the last voices Dee heard as he took his final breath.’

On the day of his death, Mr Atkinson was due for an appointment for high blood pressure, heart ­disease and kidney failure.

He was suffering from paranoia and mental health problems because his kidneys were failing to clear toxic chemicals.

Dalian Atkinson (pictured scoring for Villa against his former club Ipswich in 1992) died on August 15 outside his father’s home in Telford, Shropshire in 2016

Police were called to his father’s house after a neighbour reported shouting and Monk Tasered Mr Atkinson for 33 seconds after the ex-footballer said: ‘You can put 100,000 volts through me, I’m the Messiah.’

The police constable kicked Mr Atkinson twice in the head and Tasered him three times.

Mr Atkinson died on a 10-minute ambulance trip after suffering a cardio-respiratory ­arrest when he was handcuffed.

Monk was on Wednesday convicted of the manslaughter of Mr Atkinson and will be sentenced tomorrow.

The footballer’s family criticised the ‘completely unacceptable’ five-year delay in bringing his killer to justice.

Monk was slammed by relatives of the striker, who said they had been ‘sickened to hear’ him try to minimise his use of a Taser and two kicks to his victim’s head.

Back row left to right, Nick Barmby, Jamie Redknapp, Dalian Atkinson, front row Ray Parlour, Chris Waddle, Paul Ince and Gary Speed pose in a Hot Tub whilst filming a Televsion advert for Sky Sports

Atkinson confronted police on this quiet cul-de-sac in Telford, Shropshire, in August 2016. Pictured is the emergency services response on the night 

It is believed to be the first time in modern British criminal justice history a UK police officer has been found guilty of the manslaughter of a black man, according to Inquest, which supports the bereaved following state-related deaths.

According to the charity, no police officer has been found guilty of murder or manslaughter over a death in custody or following police contact in England and Wales since 1986.

A six-week trial at Birmingham Crown Court was told Monk fired a Taser three times and left two bootlace prints on Atkinson’s forehead near his father’s home in Meadow Close.

Jurors took 18 hours and 48 minutes to reach unanimous verdicts on Monk, who prosecutors said had exaggerated the threat posed by Atkinson and lied about the events to justify excessive and unlawful force.

In a statement following Monk’s conviction, Atkinson’s family said he was ‘much missed by all’.

This image of Atkinson’s t-shirt on the day of his death was also shown to the jury and released to the Crown Prosecution Service

The jacket Atkinson was wearing at the time of his death, which shows blood staining and cuts made by doctors while trying to save him 

The statement added: ‘We knew years ago about the terrible injuries inflicted by Pc Monk on Dalian, but have been unable to talk about them due to the criminal process. We are hugely relieved that the whole country now knows the truth about how Dalian died.

‘While it has been hard for us not to be able to talk about the details of Dalian’s death, it has been even harder to sit through this trial and to hear Pc Monk try to justify the force he used.

‘On the night he died, Dalian was vulnerable and unwell and needed medical attention. He instead received violence, and died with Pc Monk’s bootlace prints bruised onto his forehead.’

Last killer policeman was convicted back in 1986 

Sergeant Alwyn Sawyer is the last serving police officer until today to be convicted of manslaughter.

Henry Foley, 67, had been arrested for being drunk in Southport and put into the cells on February 11, 1985.

The next day he was not released and it was claimed he attacked a police officer in his cell, leading to him being handcuffed behind his back.

Another officer Sergeant Sawyer took over at the police station and went into the holding area where Mr Foley was being kept.

The prisoner was stamped or kicked so badly his bowel was ruptured and later after complaining of stomach pain was rushed to hospital.

He died at 7.15pm that night from a heart attack brought on by his injuries.

Sawyer was charged and stood trial in February 1986, with the jury taking four hours to clear him of murder – but guilty of manslaughter.

He was jailed for seven years, with the judge telling him he had committed a ‘gross act’

The family members added: ‘The fact that this case has taken nearly five years to get to trial is completely unacceptable, especially when you consider that Pc Monk’s identity was known to the prosecuting authorities from day one.’

The family also said the 48-year-old’s footballing talent ‘led him to achieve great things in his life’.

They said: ‘Our sincere hope is that now that the truth about his death is known, and justice has been done, we can start to remember him not for the manner in which he died, but for the way in which he lived.’

The trial was told Atkinson went into cardiac arrest after being taken from the scene in an ambulance, and was pronounced dead in hospital at 2.45am — about an hour after he was Tasered.

Prosecutors said Monk lied about the number of kicks he had delivered to the former sportsman’s head by claiming he could remember only one aimed at his shoulder.

The officer also claimed to have no recollection of placing his foot on Atkinson’s head as colleagues arrived at the scene.

Although he conceded he must have kicked Atkinson twice in the forehead because bootlace prints proved he had, the officer maintained his actions were lawful self-defence made necessary when his victim tried to get up.

Taser records showed Monk activated the weapon eight times for a total of more than 80 seconds using three Taser cartridges.

The jury was instructed to find Monk guilty of manslaughter if they were not sure he intended to cause serious harm but the unlawful force used was an act any reasonable person would realise was bound to pose a risk of physical harm.

On Thursday, the jury discharged from reaching a verdict on West Mercia probationary constable Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith accused of assaulting Mr Atkinson with a baton after he was Tasered to the ground.

The case against Ms Bettley-Smith, 31, ended in a hung jury.

Jurors deliberated for more than 21 hours at Birmingham Crown Court before telling the trial judge they would be unable, even if given further time, to reach a verdict on a charge alleging Bettley-Smith used unlawful force.

She told her trial she used necessary force to defend herself and others, but prosecutors claimed she had exaggerated the threat posed by former Aston Villa, Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich Town star Atkinson to ‘help’ Monk’s attempt to justify excessive force.

PC who killed Dalian Atkinson seduced female co-accused cop in McDonald’s: Officer, 42 had two-year relationship with rookie, 31, that they kept SECRET from bosses 

The pair of police officers who faced court over Dalian Atkinson’s death started dating in a McDonald’s Drive-Thru and were the subject of an internal investigation, as the force they worked for denied any knowledge of their relationship. 

PC Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, 31, and PC Benjamin Monk, 43, have both appeared before a jury this week for a case involving the death of former Aston Villa star Dalian Atkinson.

The pair were lovers at the time of the ex-Premier League striker’s death, although West Mercia Police denied any knowledge of their relationship when questioned by MailOnline.

Their near two-year association began after Monk ‘seduced’ the younger Bettley-Smith while they sat in a McDonald’s Drive-Thru after the pair were assigned on patrol together. 

A friend also described how Monk was ‘besotted’ with Ms Bettley-Smith after she joined West Mercia Police in February 2015, and that the duo’s fling was investigated internally.

Friends described how PC Benjamin Monk, 43 (right) was ‘besotted’ with new recruit Pc Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, 31 (left) as he seduced her in a McDonald’s Drive-Thru

This McDonald’s Drive-Thru is geographically the closest to Malinsgate police station, Telford. It is not known whether or not this was the car park that Monk ‘seduced’ Bettley-Smith in

A jury has been discharged at Birmingham Crown Court after failing to reach a verdict on West Mercia Pc Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith (pictured), who is accused of assaulting ex-footballer Dalian Atkinson

A friend told the Mirror how PC Monk was ‘besotted’ with Ms Bettley-Smith and was determined to date her after she joined the West Mercia Police force in early 2015. 

Monk managed to ‘seduce’ the young officer while out on patrol together as they sat ‘drinking coffee’ in a McDonald’s Drivu-Thru.

The friend said: ‘It was very much low-key. Only a few fellow officers knew they were together.’ 

The duo were an official item at the time of Dalian’s death in 2016, after dating for almost two years. Friends say they split acrimoniously in June 2018.

Their relationship was subject to an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct – although there are no official restrictions on officers dating at the workplace, it is ‘best practice’ to inform line managers. 

West Mercia Police said they ‘not aware’ of the relationship between the officers at the time of Dalian Atkinson’s death.

The force adopted new rules on workplace relationships three years after Atkinson’s death.

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