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Dalian Atkinson: Accused police officers are both from Shrewsbury

Telford | Crime | Published:

The two police officers charged over the death of ex-footballer Dalian Atkinson are both from Shrewsbury, it can be revealed after a judge ruled their full addresses cannot be published.

Benjamin Monk, left is accused of murder and Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, right, is accused of assault

The ruling came a day after the same judge lifted an anonymity order allowing the names of the two West Mercia Police constables involved to be made public.

Benjamin Monk was charged with the murder of the former Aston Villa striker earlier this month, while his colleague Pc Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith was charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

West Mercia Police has also confirmed that both officers have now been suspended.

Both officers appeared in court last week without being asked to give their personal details and were granted an interim Contempt of Court Act order banning publication of their names after it was argued there were risks to their safety.

The scene in Trench, Telford, where Dalian Atkinson died

The case had been adjourned until Thursday for a decision on whether the officers' home addresses could be made public.

Ordering a ban on reporting the street names, Judge Simon Drew QC said there was in his judgment "a real and immediate risk" to the officers' safety if the addresses were published.

However, he allowed reporting of the fact both constables lived in Shrewsbury, following submissions from barristers representing the prosecution, defence and news organisations.

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Counsel acting for six media organisations previously argued that the anonymity orders were an "unjustified" and serious interference with common law open justice principles.

Dalian Atkinson was aged 48 when he died

Mr Atkinson, 48, who also played for Ipswich and Sheffield Wednesday, died after police used a Taser near his father's house during an incident in the Trench area of Telford in August 2016.

He went into cardiac arrest in an ambulance on his way to hospital and medics were unable to save him.

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The Crown Prosecution Service announced last week that Pc Monk had been charged with murder and with unlawful act manslaughter as an alternative offence which, the CPS said, "is a lesser offence that a jury may consider if it first finds that the more serious charge has not been proved".

Pc Bettley-Smith has indicated that she will plead not guilty to the charge of assault.

The 29-year-old officer and her 41-year-old colleague have both been granted unconditional bail.

Speaking last week on behalf of the family of Mr Atkinson, solicitor Kate Maynard, of Hickman and Rose, said: "Dalian's family welcomes the decision to put the conduct of police officers before a jury but regrets that already more than three years have passed since Dalian died."

The decision to charge both officers comes after the case was referred to the CPS to consider potential charges by the police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct.

A plea and trial preparation hearing in the case has been scheduled for December 9.

Counsel acting for six media organisations argued that the anonymity orders were an "unjustified" and serious interference with common law open justice principles.

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