Pc who unlawfully killed Dalian Atkinson sacked after misconduct hearing

Benjamin Monk was dismissed at a fast-track disciplinary hearing – two weeks after being found guilty of manslaughter.

Benjamin Monk
Benjamin Monk

The police constable serving an eight-year jail sentence for the manslaughter of ex-footballer Dalian Atkinson has been sacked after a fast-track gross misconduct hearing.

Benjamin Monk, 43, was dismissed in his absence following a “special case” hearing chaired by West Mercia Police Chief Constable Anthony Bangham.

The disciplinary hearing, held in Worcester, was convened to consider an allegation of discreditable conduct, after the judge who jailed Monk ruled he had used unlawful force which “carried a high risk of really serious injury”.

Aston Villa v Huddersfield Town – Sky Bet Championship – Villa Park
A tribute to Dalian Atkinson at Villa Park following his death in 2016 (Nick Potts/PA)

Monk was cleared of murder but unanimously convicted of manslaughter on June 23 after a nine-week trial heard he had kicked 48-year-old Mr Atkinson in the head at least twice after he was tasered to the ground.

The former Aston Villa, Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich Town star died in hospital after losing consciousness following his arrest near his childhood home in Meadow Close, Telford, Shropshire, in August 2016.

Dismissing Monk without notice, Mr Bangham said: “It is entirely unacceptable for police officers who are responsible for enforcing the law to break it themselves.

“Given that Pc Monk is now a serving prisoner, having been sentenced to a term of imprisonment of eight years, the only outcome (consistent with College of Policing guidelines) is therefore dismissal without notice.”

Mr Bangham said he recognised that the death of Mr Atkinson had had a “clear and devastating impact” on his family, and that Monk’s conduct had undermined public confidence in the police.

Monk’s QC, Patrick Gibbs, said Monk was content not to appear at the hearing and accepted that his conviction amounted to gross misconduct.

After submitting 13 letters of reference from other officers, Mr Gibbs told the hearing that Monk had also attracted many unsolicited letters of support from the public during his 19-year policing career.

Referring to Monk’s conviction for manslaughter, Mr Gibbs added that the judge had accepted that the response officer’s use of a Taser had not been unlawful.

Mr Gibbs added: “It came down to the kicks and the jury found that in the heat of the moment he had gone beyond what was reasonable and convicted him.

“And for that it is inevitable that you will have to dismiss him.”

John Beggs QC, representing West Mercia Police, told the hearing the judge had said the kicks to the head were a contributory factor in Mr Atkinson’s death.

Mr Beggs said: “Inevitably a conviction of this order, as admitted, constitutes discreditable conduct, discredits West Mercia Police and the wider police service, and is susceptible to only one rational outcome.”

Dalian Atkinson
Dalian Atkinson (PA)

The hearing, attended by Monk’s partner, sister and brother-in-law, was told the Pc had previously been commended for saving the life of someone who was suicidal.

Following the guilty verdict against Monk at Birmingham Crown Court, it emerged that he had kept his job in 2011 despite having failed to mention two criminal cautions on his application to join the force.

The court was told that two cautions issued to him in 1997 and 1999 – for theft from a shop during a summer holiday job, and for being found drunk – were not disclosed on his application papers in 2001.

Disciplinary proceedings took place in 2011, at which Monk was found to have committed gross misconduct, breaching standards for honesty, and was given a final written warning for a period of 18 months.

The previous gross misconduct case led relatives of Mr Atkinson to claim Monk “should never have been working for the police” when he used the unreasonable force which killed him.

According to the charity Inquest, Monk is the first police officer in England and Wales to be found guilty of unlawful killing over a death in custody or following police contact since 1986.

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