Dalian Atkinson threatened to take officer ‘to the gates of hell’, court told

A West Mercia police constable accused of murdering Dalian Atkinson has claimed the former footballer threatened to take him “to the gates of hell”.

Accused: Benjamin Monk
Accused: Benjamin Monk

The second day of a trial at Birmingham Crown Court heard that Pc Benjamin Monk made the claim while telling investigators he kicked the ex-Aston Villa star once to “control and restrain” him after he was tasered to the ground in Telford.

Jurors were told Monk, who denies murder and manslaughter, and Pc Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, who has pleaded not guilty to assault, were interviewed under caution on August 26, 2016, and in January 2017.

The trial heard on Tuesday that Mr Atkinson, who also played for Ipswich Town and Sheffield Wednesday, went into cardiac arrest and died on August 15. 2016, after a Taser was deployed for six times longer than is standard outside his father's house in the Tench area of Telford.

Dalian Atkinson
Dalian Atkinson (left) in action for Aston Villa in the 1994 League Cup Final (Tony Harris/PA)

Summarising what Monk, now 42, said to investigators, prosecution QC Alexandra Healy told the court: “He described how when he was approaching (Mr Atkinson’s father’s house) he was aware of a very loud row taking place within the property, with one voice much louder than the other.

“He explained that when Mr Atkinson appeared at the doorway of the house he was in an obvious rage and said ‘This is the Messiah’.

“He said he produced the Taser, but Mr Atkinson, who Pc Monk did not know, was apparently unconcerned when presented with the Taser, saying, ‘I am going to take you to the gates of hell’.

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“Pc Monk was, he said, fearful for himself, his partner and whoever was in (the property).”

Monk told investigators Mr Atkinson stepped towards him, so he deployed his Taser.

Ms Healy added: “This was wholly ineffective and so he told Pc Bettley-Smith, who by this stage had pressed the emergency button on her radio, to run.

“After what must have been, he said, a short time, Mr Atkinson stopped running and so they, the officers, therefore also stopped running.”

Dalian Atkinson death
Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith and Benjamin Monk arriving at court (Jacob King/PA)

Monk said Mr Atkinson then swore at him and walked back towards his father’s house, punching through the glass of the front door.

Ms Healy said: “Because of that, concerned for the occupants of the address, Pc Monk deployed the Taser for a second time. Again, it was wholly ineffective.”

According to Monk’s account, Mr Atkinson rested against a bollard after the Taser was fired for a second time.

Ms Healy continued: “Mr Monk said he loaded the third and final cartridge into his Taser and Mr Atkinson walked towards him, talking again of taking him to the ‘gates of hell’.

“Pc Monk then discharged the Taser once more and on this occasion it was, in his words, ‘completely effective’. He said Mr Atkinson went ‘rigid’ with neuromuscular incapacitation and he fell forward. He said had that Taser not worked ‘we were completely done for’.”

Jurors have heard Monk then made a radio transmission to say “I’ve got him down” after Mr Atkinson, 48, fell into the road.

Dalian Atkinson death
Police at the scene in 2016 (Joe Giddens/PA)

Ms Healy, who has alleged that both officers were angry by the time Mr Atkinson was tasered for a third time, said Monk told investigators he walked up to the former footballer and told him to stay where he was.

Ms Healy added: “At this point, Mr Atkinson rolled slightly on to his right hand side and looked at him.

“He was making some sort of conversation directed at Pc Monk. Mr Atkinson was leaning on his right arm and brushing his chest in an apparent attempt to clear the Taser barbs and trying, he said, to get up.

“At that stage, Pc Bettley-Smith struck Mr Atkinson to his lower legs, but that did not work and so he (Monk), he says, delivered a single kick with his right foot to the area that he believed to be Mr Atkinson’s left shoulder.

“He said he did this in order to enable him to control and then restrain Mr Atkinson.”

On further questioning, the court heard, Monk said he did not know where the kick landed, but he emphasised it was single kick.

The case continues.

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