Police boss pledges to strengthen community links after Dalian verdict

West Mercia's police and crime commissioner has pledged to strengthen links between the community and officers after a policewoman was found not guilty of attacking football star Dalian Atkinson before his death in Telford.

‘ I recognise the impact this incident has had’ – John Campion
‘ I recognise the impact this incident has had’ – John Campion

John Campion spoke after Pc Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith was found not guilty of assaulting the 48-year-old former Aston Villa striker.

Pc Bettley-Smith was acquitted after jurors rejected prosecution claims that she “lashed out” in anger at Mr Atkinson in the early hours of August 15, 2016.

Last year, Pc Bettley-Smith and former Pc Ben Monk faced trial at Birmingham Crown Court where a jury found Monk guilty of the manslaughter of Mr Atkinson. He was sentenced to eight years in prison.

After Pc Bettley-Smith's most recent trial, Mr Campion said: “My thoughts continue to be with Dalian Atkinson’s family and friends, I can’t imagine the pain they have gone through during what will no doubt have continued to be an incredibly challenging time.

"While the jury has determined the outcome of this trial, as PCC I recognise the ongoing impact this incident has had and continues to have on West Mercia’s communities, particularly in Telford. I reaffirm my commitment to ensuring relationships between communities and police are strengthened.”

Born in Shrewsbury, Mr Atkinson's successful football career included stints at several top clubs including Villa, Ipswich Town, Sheffield Wednesday, and Manchester City. He also played in Europe with Metz, Real Sociedad and Fenerbahce, before spells in Saudi Arabia and South Korea in the twilight of his career.

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