United Kingdom

Dalian Atkinson trial: 'Traumatised' neighbour who watched ex-footballer get kicked in head thought he was dead

A neighbour who watched two police officers kick and beat Dalian Atkinson said she thought the ex-footballer was already dead when the constables were ordering him not to move.

Jean Jeffrey-Shaw said she had been left "traumatised" by the events of Aug 15, 2016, when she saw Pc Benjamin Monk, 42, and Pc Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, 31, deal with the former Aston Villa star.

She had to turn away when she saw a male police officer "stamping" on Atkinson’s head, Birmingham Crown Court was told. She told the jury: “He was knocking him so hard I had to turn away.

"He was going like this, 'Keep your head down'. Boom, boom, boom, boom on his head and I had to look away because it was so fast.

"And then when I turned back again, he was stood there and he was just looking down."

Patrick Gibbs QC, defending Pc Monk, put it to Mrs Jeffrey-Shaw that she may have mistaken the stamps for kicks, but the witness was adamant she saw stamps.

Mrs Jeffrey-Shaw said she turned to her husband and said: "He’s not moving. Why is he telling him to keep his head down when he hasn’t moved since he fell down?" 

Asked by Alexandra Healy QC for the Crown if she saw any movement from Dalian Atkinson on the ground, the jury were told: "No, that’s why I thought he was dead.

"They were talking to a dead man, telling him to keep his head down." 

The neighbour, who had known Dalian Atkinson all his life, said that the female officer on Meadow Close started "panicking" after her colleague had struck Dalian Atkinson in the head several times with his boot.

The neighbour, who has lived in the street for more than 50 years, told Birmingham Crown Court: “The lady, after he was stamping on the head, she was panicking.

"But the other officer was calm as anything. She didn’t know what to do." 

Questioned by Richard Smith QC, representing Pc Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, Mrs Jeffrey-Shaw was reminded that in her police interview, she recalled the female officer as being frightened.

On Thursday, she told the jury: "She was frightened. She didn’t know what to do with herself."

Earlier, the court heard a statement from Ernest Atkinson which was read out by the Crown's Paul Jarvis. 

He recalled his son saying: "I’m alive, I’m the Messiah, and I’ve come to kill you."

Dalian Atkinson was describing himself as a "born-again Christian", and Ernest Atkinson said his son was "angry and angry at himself".

At that, Dalian Atkinson grabbed his father by the throat and pushed him down into a chair, demanding to know "how much they’d paid him in their part to kill him", the jury heard. 

The former Ipswich Town and Sheffield Wednesday star was "not in his right mind" on the morning he died, his father told police. 

Officers were called to Ernest Atkinson's house by a neighbour at around 1.30am, and Birmingham Crown Court has heard how Pc Monk, 42, is alleged to have Tasered Atkinson for 33 seconds - six times longer than the standard practice - before kicking him at least twice in the head. 

His colleague and girlfriend at the time Pc Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, 31, is accused of assaulting Atkinson by hitting him with her baton, and the prosecution alleged on Wednesday she colluded with her boyfriend to lie about the kicks to the head.

Pc Monk denies murder and the alternative charge of manslaughter. Pc Bettley-Smith denies actual bodily harm (ABH). The trial continues. 

Live updates from Birmingham Crown Court below.

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