Police officer warned of 'inevitable' prison sentence over death of ex-Sheffield Wednesday player
A police officer has been warned to expect an ‘inevitable’ prison sentence after he was found guilty of manslaughter following the death of a former Sheffield Wednesday player.
Benjamin Monk, aged 43, tasered ex Wednesday striker Dalian Atkinson after being deployed to a disturbance involving the former footballer in 2016.
Mr Atkinson, who played for the Owls in the 1989/90 season, was tasered for 33 seconds and kicked in is head while he was on the ground, jurors heard.
He then suffered a cardiorespiratory arrest.
Jurors were told the standard taser deployment lasts five seconds and that Monk used unlawful and unreasonable force out of anger.
The police officer’s legal team said the taser was delivered for longer than normal by mistake, and ‘in complete confusion and panic’.
Monk, who was cleared of murder, is the first officer convicted of manslaughter during the course of his duties in over three decades.
Jurors were unable to reach a decision over his colleague, PC Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, 31, who was charged with assault after being accused of striking Mr Atkinson with a baton while he was on the ground.
A decision to seek a re-trial is to be made over the next few days.
Monk, who has 14 years’ policing service, and Bettley-Smith, who joined West Mercia Police in February 2015, were in a relationship at the time of the incident.
Monk is to be sentenced on Monday.
Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Jones, of West Mercia Police, 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.”
She added: “We do not underestimate the impact of this case and today’s verdict. It is wide-reaching and immeasurable.
“Nor do we underestimate the significant damage that it has done to the trust and confidence in the police locally and nationally, particularly to black people.
“It causes grave concern within the police service.
“The Independent Office for Police Conduct made a number of recommendations to us following Dalian’s death, including introduction of body-worn video and further training regarding Taser use.
“I want to reassure you those recommendations have been implemented.”
Judge Melbourne Inman QC, the Recorder of Birmingham, told Monk: “A custodial sentence is inevitable. I will consider everything that is said on your behalf on Monday.”
Applying for bail, his barrister, Patrick Gibbs QC, told the judge: “He understands that you will in due course pass a custodial sentence upon him.
“This application for bail is made on that express understanding and were Your Lordship to grant him bail, he would take nothing from it by way of implication.”
Following his season playing in Sheffield, Mr Atkinson left for Real Sociedad.
He went on to play for teams including Aston Villa, Fenerbahce and Manchester City.