Dalian Atkinson: Police officer charged with murder of former Premier League footballer named

Lizzie Dearden
Reuters

The police officer accused of killing a footballer who died after being Tasered can be named for the first time.

PC Benjamin Monk has been charged with murder over the death of Dalian Atkinson, while his colleague PC Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith is accused of assault causing actual bodily harm.

Identifying the pair was previously banned by a reporting restriction, but it was partly lifted by a judge at Birmingham Crown Court on Wednesday.

Both officers were present at the hearing, where their lawyers agreed that anonymity could not be justified but argued that their home addresses should not be revealed in media reports.

Defence representatives had previously argued that there was a risk to the officers’ safety and been granted an interim order banning publishing their names under the Contempt of Court Act.

Several news outlets opposed the order, but the officers were allowed to appear in court without being asked to give their personal details last week, and then released on unconditional bail.

Counsel acting for six media organisations argued that the anonymity orders were an “unjustified” and serious interference with open justice principles under common law.

Judge Simon Drew QC varied the reporting restriction to allow the officers’ names and ages to be published, but prevented the media from publishing their home addresses.

The Crown Prosecution Service announced last week that PC Monk had been charged with murder and with unlawful act manslaughter as an alternative offence.

PC Bettley-Smith, 29, has indicated that she will plead not guilty to the charge of assault.

She and her 41-year-old colleague are both from Shropshire and serve in West Mercia Police.

Mr Atkinson, who played for Aston Villa, Ipswich Town and Sheffield Wednesday, died at the age of 48 after an incident near his father’s house in Telford in August 2016.

A Taser was deployed and he died after going into cardiac arrest in an ambulance on his way to hospital.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) referred the case to prosecutors.

Speaking last week on behalf of the family of Mr Atkinson, solicitor Kate Maynard, of Hickman and Rose, said: “Dalian’s family welcomes the decision to put the conduct of police officers before a jury but regrets that already more than three years have passed since Dalian died.”

A plea and trial preparation hearing in the case has been scheduled for 9 December.

Additional reporting by PA

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Police officer charged with murder of former Premier League footballer