Dalian Atkinson death: Pc's conviction 'does not draw a line under case'

West Mercia's police and crime commissioner says the conviction of a serving police officer for the manslaughter of Dalian Atkinson cannot draw a line under the case.

Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Jones and Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion
Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Jones and Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion

John Campion was speaking after Benjamin Monk, a West Mercia Police officer, was convicted of the manslaughter of the former Premier League star.

A jury failed to reach a verdict on a charge of assault on a second police officer, Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith. The Crown Prosecution Service will now be given seven days to decide whether to seek a retrial.

Monk is expected to be sentenced next week and has been told he faces an "inevitable" prison term.

Speaking after the verdict on Monk, Mr Campion offered his sympathy to Mr Atkinson's family.

He said: "My thoughts and prayers remain with the family and friends of Dalian Atkinson who, during what will have been an unimaginably difficult time, have held their grief with dignity and fortitude.

"Whilst I can never possibly fully understand what they have gone through, and are still going through, I know that no matter the outcome of this trial, it would never take away their loss of Dalian."

The commissioner said it was "extremely worrying" that Monk had fallen so far short of the standards expected of the force's officers.

Benjamin Monk was convicted on Wednesday

He added that he would be working to try to rebuild trust between the community and the police.

"As police and crime commissioner I am deeply concerned that a serving West Mercia police officer has committed manslaughter," he said.

"The standard of behaviour and actions expected of police officers by our community is rightly high. It is extremely worrying that someone trusted to uphold our laws has fallen so far short and I recognise our community will share those concerns.

"As commissioner, as the public’s voice in policing, my priority is clear – to ensure the public can have trust and confidence in their police force and the actions of its officers.

"Where that trust breaks down I will play my part to ensure it is rebuilt.

"I am clear that the end of the trial cannot just draw a line under this matter. I will ensure that the lessons for West Mercia Police are fully understood from the events on August 15, 2016, and I will robustly hold them to account for taking whatever action is required.

Dalian Atkinson played for Aston Villa during his footballing career

"I will also play my part in supporting and challenging West Mercia Police in working with the communities across Telford, and the rest of the force area, ensuring the needs of the community are understood and their concerns are acted upon."

Rachel Jones, Assistant Chief Constable of West Mercia Police, has also apologised to Mr Atkinson's family.

She said the case had damaged trust and confidence in the police locally and nationally, particularly to black people, and caused grave concern within the police service.

In a statement she said: "Words alone cannot express the deep regret and shock I feel that I must stand here and address you because a West Mercia officer has been found to be criminally responsible for Dalian’s death.

"I am sincerely sorry and extend my apologies and deep condolences to Dalian’s family and friends. You have demonstrated great dignity and strength throughout."

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