Police formally apologise over death of former Ipswich Town star

Dalian Atkinson, who played for Ipswich during the 1980s, died after being shot with a Taser in 2016

Dalian Atkinson, who played for Ipswich during the 1980s, died after being shot with a Taser in 2016 Picture: MICK BACON/ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

Police have formally apologised to the family of former Ipswich Town star Dalian Atkinson over his death.

The chief constable of West Mercia Police has sent a written apology to the footballer's family, after a police officer was found guilty of his manslaughter earlier this year.

Atkinson, who played for the Blues in the 1980s and also for Aston Villa and Sheffield Wednesday, died after Pc Benjamin Monk used excessive force, kicking him in the head at least twice, and also used a Taser on him.

The 48-year-old died in hospital after losing consciousness, following his arrest near his childhood home in Meadow Close, Telford, in August 2016.

Dalian Atkinson receiving the match ball after scoring a hat-trick v Middlesborough in April 1988

Dalian Atkinson receiving the match ball after scoring a hat-trick v Middlesborough in April 1988 from Ipswich Town manager John Duncan - Credit: Archant

Monk was convicted of manslaughter and jailed for eight years in June, and dismissed from the force after a gross misconduct hearing.

Jurors heard he fired a Taser three times, including a single 33-second discharge, and left two bootlace prints on Atkinson’s forehead.

Pippa Mills, the new head of the force, who took over in September, said in the letter she was "deeply sorry".

She wrote that due to the European Convention on Human Rights, there was an “obligation” for her to write to the family on behalf of the force to “acknowledge and accept” that his human rights were breached in this case.

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The letter said: “A police uniform does not grant officers immunity to behave unlawfully or to abuse their powers.

“Ben Monk’s conduct was in direct contradiction to the standards and behaviour of the policing service, and understandably undermined public confidence.”

File photo dated 17/06/21 of West Mercia Police constable Benjamin Monk

West Mercia Police constable Benjamin Monk. The force has formally apologised to the ex-footballer's family over his death - Credit: PA

She added: “I am deeply sorry for the devastating impact the actions of a West Mercia officer has caused you and I extend my deepest condolences to you all, and Dalian’s wider family and friends.”

Ms Mills also said she recognised the incident was “devastating” for the family, adding: “I cannot imagine the immense pain you have felt and how the significant delays with the trial have also added to your burden of grief.

“You have demonstrated great strength and dignity throughout the past five years.”

The family’s lawyer, Kate Maynard of Hickman and Rose solicitors, said in a statement the official apology is “welcomed and overdue”.

“The chief constable’s acknowledgement that a police uniform does not grant immunity is especially pertinent in a year that has seen other terrible examples of deadly police violence,” she said.

“With the first conviction of a serving police officer on a manslaughter charge connected with his policing duties in over 30 years, it is hoped that this will serve as a deterrent, and also embolden those who seek police accountability.”