United Kingdom

Neighbour of ex-Aston Villa star Dalian Atkinson tells court how she watched him die

An elderly neighbour of ex-Aston Villa star Dalian Atkinson has told the court she watched as a police officer kicked him in the head as he lay dying.

The Crown alleges West Mercia Pc Benjamin Monk murdered the ex-Aston Villa star by kicking him in the head intending serious harm, while the officer's then partner, Pc Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith struck blows with a baton out of anger. 

Jean Jeffery-Shaw told Birmingham Crown Court she was so ‘traumatised’ after watching the police ‘kill a man’ outside her bedroom window that she was forced to consult her GP. 

It comes after a statement written by Mr Atkinson's father Ernest before his own death told the murder trial he warned police his son was 'not in his right mind' on the night he was Tasered.

Mrs Jeffery-Shaw said she still had nightmares about what she had seen in the early hours of August 15, 2016.

Police officer couple defendants Benjamin Monk and Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith outside court

The Crown alleges Monk murdered the ex-Aston Villa star (pictured in 1991) by kicking him in the head intending serious harm

Having watched the incident unfold, she described seeing the man she later learned was Dalian Atkinson, collapse into the road outside her house after being tasered by one of two response officers.

She told the court that the male officer then went to Mr Atkinson’s head with the female officer by his body.

‘One officer said, ‘Keep your head down, I am not telling you again’, The man brought up his knee to stamp on his head.

‘I said to my husband, ‘Oh my God, he’s dead, he’s not moving. Why is he telling him to keep his head down? They is talking to a dead man’.

‘I did not see the body move at all. I thought he was dead. At one point the officer was kicking his head so hard I had to look away because it was too much.’

She described several stamps and kicks to Mr Atkinson’s head and said the female officer was using her baton to hit his legs and the ‘fleshy parts of his body’.

The neighbour described the area in Telford as filling up with police cars (pictured) and officers gathering around the body which obscured her view

Former Aston Villa star Dalian Atkinson died after being Tasered, the court heard this week

‘She went to cuff him but his hands were limp,’ she said. ‘The lady was panicking.’

At that point she described the area in Telford as filling up with police cars and officers gathering around the body which obscured her view.

It was only at 4am when Mr Atkinson's father Ernest, her friend for more than 50 years, rang to say that Dalian had died, that she realised the body had belonged to the former footballer.

Mrs Jeffery-Shaw, who had known Dalian all his life, said she did not recognise him on the night. She had thought the man outside had been one of Ernest’s grandchildren.

‘Had I known it was him I would have gone out to stop it,’ she said, ‘and maybe get killed myself. I would have comforted him and calmed him down.’

She described a female officer coming to her door in the hours in the immediate aftermath of the incident to ask if she had seen anything.

She said: ‘I told her I did not see. There were police everywhere going into homes. I am not telling them they just killed someone on my street.

‘I just said, “Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy’, and she said, “Obviously you saw something, that’s why you are so upset".

‘I did not answer her again. I just said I heard it. I just did not want to tell her there and then. I was traumatised and it is still affecting me to this day.’

In the days that followed, Mrs Jeffery-Shaw said: ‘I kept breaking down and I went to see my doctor. I was put on anti-depressants. I was playing it over and over in my mind.

This photo of Dalian Atkinson was shown to the jury at Birmingham Crown Court at the trial

‘My kids said that if it had happened to one of them I’d want someone to talk about it. I held onto it for a while but I had to get it out.’

Mrs Jeffery-Shaw gave her statement on September 1 2016.

She had earlier described how she had not long gone to bed after watching the Rio Olympics when she heard a shouts outside her immediate neighbour Ernest’s house.

‘A man was saying he had nowhere to go and wanted to be let into the house,’ she said. ‘I heard him say in a Jamaican accent, ‘Dem dead, Kenroy, Elaine, Paul, dem dead.’

The noise stopped when the man was let into Ernest’s house but Mrs Jeffery-Shaw was concerned enough to ring him.

‘I said, “Can I speak to Mr Atkinson please?’ and the voice replied, ‘No darling, you cannot speak to him, he is otherwise engaged,’ but I heard Ernest shout, ‘Who is it?’ in the background.’

The line went dead and she called back but got no reply so went to her window to watch.

‘I saw two police officers arriving like they were on a mission,’ she said. ‘They were stepping with purpose.’

She described hearing the man in the house say, "Who called you?" and "What are you going to do about it?" before hearing a thud and a splintering crash.

Seconds later she described the police having backed off and the man emerging up the path to the house with a red ‘taser light’ on his chest.

The area near where Mr Atkinson died was cordoned off by police 

She said: ‘The man said he was the Messiah and they could not hurt him. They moved back and told him not to come closer.

‘He was walking in a mummified way, swaying from side to side. The police went behind a car then I saw him collapse.’ 

On the third day of the case at Birmingham Crown Court, jurors were read a statement given to officers by Ernest Atkinson a week after his son's death on August 15, 2016.

The court heard Mr Atkinson recalled his son saying: 'I'm alive, I am the messiah, and I have come to kill you.' 

Mr Atkinson, who has since died himself, told police his son had grabbed him around the throat after 'pounding' on the door of his home in Meadow Close in Telford, Shropshire, in the early hours. 

Jurors have heard Ernest Atkinson, then aged 85, gave his account of the events to police on August 23, 2016.

His statement was summarised and read into the court record on Thursday by junior prosecution counsel Paul Jarvis.

Mr Jarvis said: 'Ernest explained that he was in bed upstairs when he heard some movement outside at the front of his house.

'He saw his son Dalian standing outside on the gravel area near the front of the house.'

Mr Atkinson told police he had opened a window and asked his son what was wrong, and he had asked to come inside to talk.

The former Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich Town's player seemed to be upset, his father stated, and he opened the door for him because he was banging on it.

Addressing the jury, Mr Jarvis added: 'Dalian told Ernest Atkinson that he loved him and asked why his father and the rest of the family were trying to kill him.' 

According to Mr Atkinson's account, his son 'described himself as a born-again Christian' and appeared to be angry.

Continuing to summarise the statement, Mr Jarvis said: 'At that, Dalian grabbed Ernest by the throat and pushed him down into a chair. He told him not to move otherwise he would kill Paul and Kenroy, Dalian's brothers.

The house's front door was smashed by police officers. Pictured, during the investigation

'Dalian asked his father how much they had paid him.'

Jurors were told Dalian then answered the phone, again shouting that he was 'the messiah.'

Mr Jarvis added: 'Ernest had never seen his son like this before.

'Ernest then heard a knock at the door and a voice on the other side of the door said "police".

'From inside the house Ernest could see and hear Dalian standing with his hands out and say "You are going to Taser me. I'm the messiah, you cannot hurt me".'

Mr Atkinson, who assumed the police would be able to calm his son down, then heard a bang as the glass in his front door was smashed.

He then made a telephone call to his son Paul and went to the back of his house.

Jurors were told Mr Atkinson saw two police officers and was informed that 'Dalian was fine and that he was in an ambulance on the way to hospital'.

Mr Jarvis added: 'A short time later a police officer came into Ernest's kitchen to tell him his son had died.

'Ernest told the police that, in his view, his son had not been in his right mind that morning.'

Pc Monk, 42, denies murder and manslaughter. Pc Bettley-Smith, 31, denies assault.

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