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AFP
May 6, 2021

Ex-Villa star Atkinson threatened police officer, murder trial told

AFP
May 6, 2021

LONDON: A police officer accused of murdering former Aston Villa footballer Dalian Atkinson claimed the player threatened to take him “to the gates of hell”, a court heard on Wednesday.

The second day of a trial at Birmingham Crown Court in central England heard that Police Constable Benjamin Monk made the claim while telling investigators he kicked the former star, 48, once to “control and restrain” him after he was tasered to the ground.

Jurors were told that Monk, who denies murder and manslaughter, and PC Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, who has pleaded not guilty to assault, were twice interviewed under caution.

The trial heard on Tuesday that Atkinson, who played for Villa in the 1990s, went into cardiac arrest and died on August 15, 2016 in Telford, 30 miles (50 kilometres) from Birmingham, after a Taser was deployed for six times longer than is standard.

The prosecution also alleges that Monk delivered at least two kicks to Atkinson’s head.

Summarising what Monk, now 42, said to investigators, prosecutor Alexandra Healy told the court the officer was aware of a “loud row” taking place inside Atkinson’s father’s house.

“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’,” said Healy.

“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’.”

Monk told investigators that Atkinson stepped towards him, so he deployed his Taser but it twice proved ineffective. On the third occasion Atkinson was incapacitated.