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Dalian Atkinson: Witness thought ex-footballer was dead as officer ‘stamped’ on him, jury told

·4-min read
A witness has told a trial she feared ex-footballer Dalian Atkinson was dead as a police officer repeatedly ‘stamped’ on his head (Action Images via Reuters)
A witness has told a trial she feared ex-footballer Dalian Atkinson was dead as a police officer repeatedly ‘stamped’ on his head (Action Images via Reuters)

A witness has told a court she feared Dalian Atkinson was dead as a police officer repeatedly “stamped” on the ex-footballer’s head.

Jean Jeffrey-Shaw told a jury she had to look away as the former Aston Villa star was Tasered, fell to the ground and was then stamped on several times, when she believed he had stopped moving.

The Crown alleges West Mercia PC Benjamin Monk murdered the retired striker by kicking him in the head at least twice, intending serious harm, while the officer’s then partner, PC Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, struck blows with a baton out of anger.

Ms Jeffrey-Shaw was among several eyewitnesses living in Meadow Close, Telford, Shropshire, who gave evidence to a trial at Birmingham Crown Court on Thursday.

She told the court she had known Atkinson's father, Ernest, who lived next door to her, for more than 50 years, and had known Dalian Atkinson since he was a baby.

Giving her account of what happened, Ms Jeffrey-Shaw said she heard shouting in the street and saw two police officers walking "with purpose" nearby and a crashing noise.

The witness said she then saw a man in the street, who she wrongly thought was Atkinson's nephew, fall to the ground behind a car.

"One of the officers was saying 'keep your head down' and was stamping on his head,” Ms Jeffrey-Shaw told the court.

"The man lifted his knee up and stamped.

"One time he was knocking him so hard I had to look away. I couldn't stand it. He went boom, boom, boom."

Claiming the man on the ground had been stamped on "several times more than once", Ms Jeffrey-Shaw added: "I said to my husband 'he's not moving, why is he telling him to keep his head down?'

"I was thinking he is dead, because he wasn't moving."

The witness also said the female officer, who struck Atkinson with a baton, appeared to be frightened.

"After he was stamping on the head, the lady was panicking but the other officer was calm," she said.

West Mercia Police Constables Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith and Benjamin Monk (right) arrive at Birmingham Crown CourtJacob King/PA
West Mercia Police Constables Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith and Benjamin Monk (right) arrive at Birmingham Crown CourtJacob King/PA

Asked by prosecution QC Alexandra Healy if she had seen any movement from the man while he was on the ground, Ms Jeffrey-Shaw replied: "No, that's why I said he was dead."

Under cross-examination from Patrick Gibbs QC, for Mr Monk, the neighbour maintained she had not mistaken two kicks to the head for stamping.

Mr Gibbs said: "A suggestion I have is that the officer has not stamped down with the sole of his boot, but he has kicked Dalian in the forehead with the front of the boot, with the laces?"

Ms Jeffrey-Shaw said: "He was stamping. He was putting his foot down. I had to look away, it was too much for me."

Asked by Richard Smith QC, representing PC Bettley-Smith, if the officer had looked frightened at the scene, Ms Jeffery-Shaw answered: "Yes, she was frightened. She didn't know what to do with herself."

Earlier, jurors heard the former footballer's father said his son was not in his right mind when he was Tasered.

Ernest Atkinson, who has since died, told investigators his son, who also played for Ipswich Town and Sheffield Wednesday, had grabbed him around the throat after "pounding" on the door of his home.

Undated handout photo of Dalian Atkinson shown to the jury at Birmingham Crown CourtKaren Wright/PA
Undated handout photo of Dalian Atkinson shown to the jury at Birmingham Crown CourtKaren Wright/PA

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

His statement was summarised and read to the jury by junior prosecution counsel Paul Jarvis.

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

The 48-year-old seemed to be upset, his father said, and he opened the door for him because he was banging on it.

Addressing the jury, Mr Jarvis added: "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.

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

The trial continues.

Additional reporting by PA

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