Police officer jailed for killing Dalian Atkinson will be sacked

Police officer jailed for eight years for killing Dalian Atkinson by blasting ex-footballer with Taser and kicking him in the head will be sacked from force after admitting misconduct

  • Pc Benjamin Monk used ‘excessive and unlawful force’ against Dalian Atkinson
  • He was found guilty of manslaughter last month and now faces dismissal
  • Monk did not attend a fast-track disciplinary hearing, but his lawyer was present
  • Patrick Gibbs said cop accepted the force has ‘no alternative’ to dismissal 

A police officer jailed for eight years for killing ex-footballer Dalian Atkinson will be sacked from force after admitting misconduct.

Pc Benjamin Monk, 43, used ‘excessive and unlawful force’ when he delivered two kicks to the skull of the former Aston Villa striker – who he also tasered.

Monk was found guilty of manslaughter last month – making him the first British officer in 35 years to be found guilty of unlawfully killing a member of the public in the course of his duty. 

Now, the officer is facing ‘inevitable’ dismissal without notice.

Pc Benjamin Monk, 43, was told by a judge he had used ‘excessive and unlawful force’ when he delivered two kicks to the skull of former Aston Villa striker Dalian Atkinson

Monk did not attend a fast-track disciplinary hearing, but his lawyer, Patrick Gibbs QC, said the jailed cop accepted West Mercia Police has ‘no alternative’ to dismissal.

The hearing was convened to consider an allegation of discreditable conduct, after the judge who jailed Monk ruled he had used unlawful force which ‘carried a high risk of really serious injury’.

Monk was cleared of murder but unanimously convicted of manslaughter on June 23.

A nine-week trial heard he had kicked 48-year-old Mr Atkinson in the head at least twice, after he was tasered to the ground. 

The jury at Mr Atkinson’s trial was shown pictures of distinctive triangular footwear marks found on the ex-footballer’s forehead (pictured) 

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)

The police officer convicted of killing ex-footballer Dalian Atkinson demonstrated to investigators just days after the fatal incident how he delivered ‘one kick’ to the former sportsman, while he was on the floor.

Jurors in the trial of Pc Benjamin Monk, who was cleared of murder but found guilty of Mr Atkinson’s manslaughter on Wednesday, heard how later scientific examination of bootlace-marks left in the ex Aston Villa striker’s forehead, showed the police officer had kicked him twice.

Monk also claimed in the interview that he believed the kick was to Mr Atkinson’s ‘left shoulder’ area, although evidence presented in court showed the blows landed on Mr Atkinson’s head.

Prosecutors claimed during the trial that West Mercia Police’s constable Monk had used unlawful and unreasonable force during a third and final 33-second firing of the officer’s Taser, and by then kicking the ex-forward.

Mr Atkinson, 48, who had also starred for Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich Town during his earlier football career, died about 70 minutes after the incident.

A two-and-a-half minute clip of Monk’s interview by investigators from the then Independent Police Complaints’ Commission, now the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) and shown to the jury, was released at the end of the trial. It took place on August 26, 2016.

The footage provided an insight into Monk’s recollection in the days immediately following the incident in Meadow Close, Telford, Shropshire, as it was recorded 11 days after Mr Atkinson died.

In interview, Monk is asked by the interviewer where he was stood on the night, with the officer then using two glasses from the table in front of him, recreating the scene. He said: ‘This is his left shoulder here and I am stood there, so two paces away off his left shoulder.’

Monk was asked why he told another officer at the scene to ‘get back’, replying: ‘I had formed the opinion that the only way I could keep this man on the ground to ensure our safety: I was going to kick him. And that’s what I did.’

The interviewer then asked: ‘Could you describe to me the kick that you did?’

Monk replied: ‘It was basically right-footed. I pulled my right foot back, kicked him in the area which I believe to be is shoulder area with one kick. And the placement of the foot would have been on the laces. Like a football boot, if you’d imagine.’

Monk then stood up from the interview table, holding his right foot, standing back, and said ‘it was literally there’, pointing to the laces of his right boot, and again saying ‘there’.

When asked where he had ‘made contact’ with Mr Atkinson, with the kick, Monk replied: ‘I don’t know. I don’t know.’

The interviewer asked which shoulder he had ‘guessed’ he struck, with the officer of 14 years’ experience replying: ‘His left shoulder.’

The interviewer asked him: ‘And you said it was one kick?’ Monk replied: ‘One kick. To the best of my recollection, it was one kick.’ 

The former Aston Villa, Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich Town star died in hospital after losing consciousness following his arrest near his childhood home in Meadow Close, Telford, Shropshire, in August 2016. 

Following the guilty verdict against Monk at Birmingham Crown Court, it emerged that he had kept his job in 2011 despite having failed to mention two criminal cautions on his application to join the force.

The court was told that two cautions issued to him in 1997 and 1999, for theft from a shop during a summer holiday job, and for being found drunk, were not disclosed on his application papers in 2001.

Disciplinary proceedings took place in 2011, at which Monk was found to have committed gross misconduct, breaching standards for honesty, and was given a final written warning for a period of 18 months.

The previous gross misconduct case led relatives of Mr Atkinson to claim Monk ‘should never have been working for the police’ when he used the unreasonable force which killed him.

His partner, 31-year-old West Mercia Pc Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, was accused of assaulting Mr Atkinson – but a jury failed to reach a verdict.

Now, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have announced they will seek a retrial.

They allege that Pc Bettley-Smith used unreasonable force in striking Mr Atkinson with a baton after he had been tasered.

At Friday’s employment hearing in Worcester, Mr Gibbs told West Mercia Chief Constable Anthony Bangham: ‘I formally confirm that Pc Monk accepts that… the force will have no alternative but to dismiss him without notice.’ 

After submitting 13 letters of reference from other officers, Mr Gibbs told the hearing that Monk had also attracted many unsolicited letters of support from the public during his 19-year policing career.

Referring to Monk’s conviction for manslaughter, Mr Gibbs added that the judge had accepted that the response officer’s use of a Taser had not been unlawful.

Mr Gibbs added: ‘It came down to the kicks and the jury found that in the heat of the moment he had gone beyond what was reasonable and convicted him.

‘And for that it is inevitable that you will have to dismiss him.’

John Beggs QC, representing West Mercia Police, told the hearing the judge had said the kicks to the head were a contributory factor in Mr Atkinson’s death.

Mr Beggs said: ‘Inevitably a conviction of this order, as admitted, constitutes discreditable conduct, discredits West Mercia Police and the wider police service, and is susceptible to only one rational outcome.’

Chief Constable Bangham, said: ‘It is entirely unacceptable for police officers who are responsible for enforcing the law to break it themselves.

‘Given that Pc Monk is now a serving prisoner, having been sentenced to a term of imprisonment of eight years, the only outcome (consistent with College of Policing guidelines) is therefore dismissal without notice.’

Mr Bangham said he recognised that the death of Dalian Atkinson had had a ‘clear and devastating impact’ on his family, and that Monk’s conduct had undermined public confidence in the police.

The hearing, attended by Monk’s partner, sister and brother-in-law, was told the Pc had previously been commended for saving the life of someone who was suicidal. 

A nine-week trial heard he had kicked 48-year-old Mr Atkinson (pictured) in the head at least twice, after he was tasered to the ground

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