United Kingdom

Witness describes moment policeman kicked ex-Aston Villa star Dalian Atkinson with substantial force

A court has heard the moment former Premier League star Dalian Atkinson was kicked with 'substantial force' moments after he was tasered by police officers. 

David Lewis, Meadow Close resident, told jurors that a policeman was running away from the ex-Aston Villa striker 'as fast as he could' moments before Atkinson was tasered in 2016.

Mr Lewis described the scene in detail, explaining Atkinson had staggered before his pursuit of a police officer saw him tasered for more than 30 seconds and allegedly kicked in the head. 

A statement from Mr Lewis' wife, Janet, then went on to recall in detail the moment she witnessed a male moving as though 'a footballer [was] kicking a football with substantial force.' 

The news comes on the fifth day of Atkinson's murder trial, where two police officers have so far denied allegations of murder, manslaughter and assault.

The policeman accused of murdering ex-Aston Villa star Dalian Atkinson kicked him 'like a footballer kicking a ball with substantial force', a murder trial was told today

Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, 29, and Benjamin Monk, 42, pictured at Birmingham Crown Court last week

PC Monk is charged with the murder of Dalian Atkinson while PC Bettley-Smith is charged with assault. The officers, shown here in 2019, were lovers at the time of Mr Atkinson's death

Dalian Atkinson, who also played for Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich Town, was Tasered for 33 seconds and had two bootlace prints on his forehead when he was taken to hospital.

The ex-Premier League star, 48, died of cardio-respiratory arrest in hospital after the incident in Meadow Close, Telford on August 15, 2016.

PC Benjamin Monk, 42, is on trial accused of murder and manslaughter, while PC Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, 31, denies assaulting Atkinson that day. 

A statement made in October 2016 by Mr Lewis's wife Janet, who has since passed away, was read to the jury at Birmingham Crown Court today.

Evidence from Meadow Close residents who witnessed the incident involving the former footballer was read at court today. Pictured: Police at the scene in Telford, 2016

Police officers at the scene after Mr Atkinson was killed in 2016, dying after suffering a cardiac arrest

The statement, read to the court by prosecutor Paul Jarvis, described Atkinson as appearing to be 'very agitated' as he kicked at his father's front door.

Mrs Lewis recalled seeing the former Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich Town forward proceeding to 'stagger about' before a Taser was pointed at him by a male officer who shouted 'stand still, stand still or I will use my Taser'.

Quoting the statement, Mr Jarvis told the court: 'Dalian however kept on moving towards the officers. I then watched as Dalian fell to the ground behind a car.'

According to Mrs Lewis's statement, she heard a 'hissing, crackling' sound for couple of seconds during the incident.

Dalian Atkinson tributes are left outside Villa Park in 2016 shortly after news of his death broke

Former Aston Villa manager Ron Atkinson holding the League Cup with Atkinson in 1994. The striker scored once in Villa's 3-1 victory over Manchester United

The court heard she then saw the male officer's left arm and shoulder moving backwards and forwards, but stop suddenly as though he had kicked something.

'It was very similar to a footballer kicking a football with substantial force,' the statement added.

Speaking today from the witness box at Birmingham Crown Court, Meadow Close resident David Lewis said he had not recognised a man he saw from his bedroom window in the early hours of August 15, but later learned that it was Atkinson. 

Mr Lewis told the court Atkinson's mood appeared to be very unstable before two police officers arrived at the scene.

Dalian Atkinson, who also played for Manchester City, Ipswich Town and Sheffield Wednesday, died in 2016 in Telford, Shropshire 

The witness told jurors: 'He (Atkinson) started to walk towards them. When they got to the end of the driveway, they ran down the road as if they were frightened of something.

'Dalian suddenly started to almost run - he suddenly changed his pace of walking.

'He was going from a slow walk to a much faster walk, which was almost a run.'

Although he did not see a Taser being discharged Mr Lewis said he saw Atkinson fall down, and a female officer later raising a baton above her head and bringing it down twice. 

Describing the alleged actions of the female officer at the scene, Mrs Lewis added: 'Even with my window closed I could hear the strikes administered with her baton impacting on Dalian's body and clothing.'

Also speaking today was PC Mark Bedford, who has since left the West Mercia force, who said he heard PC Monk tell paramedics that Atkinson 'may be a bit bloody as I had to kick him'. 

After he pulled up in Meadow Close, Mr Bedford said he saw PC Bettley-Smith use a baton to deliver three strikes to Mr Atkinson.

Asked where the blows had landed, Mr Bedford replied: 'Because the back was towards me and the strikes were in front of her, I couldn't see. I would estimate around the waist.'

Dalian Anderson celebrates after scoring for Aston Villa against Ipswich Town in August 1992

The ex-officer said he had seen Atkinson moving one of his hands slowly, apparently trying to grab the Taser's wires.

As well as taking control of the ex-footballer's right arm, Mr Bedford said, he believed he had used another officer's handcuffs to restrain Atkinson.

During questioning from defence QC Patrick Gibbs, Mr Bedford was asked if the comment made by Monk about Atkinson being kicked to the head would have been useful information for paramedics to know.

Mr Bedford answered: 'I would presume so. They would need to know the injuries he had got.'

Karen Wright - Mr Atkinson's partner of eight years - had previously revealed she spoke with Dalian just an hour before the incident.

He had visited his father, Ernest, at his Telford home and was slamming on the proclaiming to be 'the Messiah' and threatening to kill his brothers.

From back left, former footballers Nick Barmby, Jamie Redknapp, Dalian Atkinson (circled), and from front left, Ray Parlour, Chris Waddle, Paul Ince and Gary Speed share a Jacuzzi

Police were later called by concerned neighbours, the court heard.

Earlier in the trial it was also heard how Monk colluded with Bettley-Smith to lie about kicking the ex-footballer in the head during the incident.

Monk said in his initial police interview that he had only kicked the former Aston Villa player once on the shoulder during the struggle in Telford, Shropshire in August 2016.

However, his defence barrister told Birmingham Crown Court earlier last week that the officer does not dispute kicking the ex-footballer twice in the head - but only did so because he was 'terrified'.

The trial continues. 

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