Sat. Jan 22nd, 2022

Dalian Atkinson’s family say five-year wait for trial was ‘unacceptable’

Dalian Atkinson’s family told of their relief and continuing pain after a five-year battle for justice saw a British police officer become the first in 35 years to be convicted of manslaughter while on duty.

PC Benjamin Monk used excessive force when he fired an electric stun gun into the former professional footballer for 33 seconds – six times longer than is standard – and kicked him twice in the head as he lay on the ground, a jury found.

Monk was called to attend a disturbance in Telford, Shropshire in August 2016, when Atkinson was suffering an acute mental health crisis. His behaviour was erratic and out of character, the trial heard.

At the end of a six-minute clash, Atkinson was kicked with such force that his blood was found in the laces of Monk’s police-issue boots, the trial heard. The West Mercia police officer was accused of lying in court about his account.

Legal restrictions meant details of the incident were not made public until the trial began in May, almost five years after Atkinson, 48, died. After the verdict, his family condemned Monk, saying they were “sickened” by the officer’s defence, and that he had meted out violence to a man who needed help.

Monk told the jury he had been terrified by Atkinson and had acted solely in self-defence, as he was entitled to do.

The jury disagreed, and afterwards the Atkinson family said: “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 on to his forehead.

“We have been sickened to hear PC Monk try to minimise the force he used on Dalian and exaggerate the threat he posed … We would like to thank the jury members for all their hard work and attention.”

The family condemned the delay in achieving justice: “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 jury at Birmingham crown court reached its verdicts on Monk after nearly 19 hours of deliberation over six days. They first acquitted him of murder, but then unanimously convicted him of manslaughter.

The last successful prosecution of an on-duty police officer for manslaughter was in 1986 following the death of Henry Foley. The retired bus driver from Southport was beaten by Alwyn Sawyer of Merseyside police while in custody.