Jury sworn in to try policeman accused of murdering football ace Dalian Atkinson

Matthew Cooper, PA
·2-min read

A jury has been sworn in to try a police officer who denies the murder and manslaughter of ex-Aston Villa footballer Dalian Atkinson.

A 12-strong panel and two alternative jurors were chosen at random from a pool of 20 on Monday to try West Mercia Police Constable Benjamin Monk.

The eight men and six women were selected after confirming they had no connections with various parties involved, including the West Mercia force and the Independent Office for Police Conduct.

Aston Villa – Dalian Atkinson
Dalian Atkinson, who played for Aston Villa between 1991 and 1995 (PA)

Pc Monk entered formal not guilty pleas over the alleged murder and manslaughter of Mr Atkinson during a day-long hearing on Monday.

Monk spoke only to deny both charges when he was arraigned by the court clerk at Birmingham Crown Court.

The 42-year-old officer was charged in 2019 with murder and an alternative charge of manslaughter after an inquiry into Mr Atkinson’s death in 2016 in Telford, Shropshire.

The constable’s colleague, Pc Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, 31, is also set to face trial accused of assault.

Police constable Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith
Police constable Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith (Steve Parsons/PA)

She has pleaded not guilty to a charge alleging she assaulted Mr Atkinson occasioning actual bodily harm before his death on August 15 2016.

The 48-year-old former footballer played for several other clubs, including Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich Town.

Adjourning the case, Judge Melbourne Inman QC said 14 jurors would sit on the trial until the end of the Crown’s opening speech, which is due to begin on Tuesday next week.

Members of the newly sworn jury were told the alternative jurors would only be asked to sit beyond the Crown’s opening if one of the original 12-strong panel was unable to continue for any reason.

Jurors were informed the case is likely to last between six and eight weeks, and could run into the start of July.