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Anonymity lifted for police charged in connection with death of former Town player

PUBLISHED: 20:53 13 November 2019 | UPDATED: 20:53 13 November 2019

Dalian Atkinson, who died in 2016 after receiving a taser shock 
 Picture: OWEN HINES

Dalian Atkinson, who died in 2016 after receiving a taser shock Picture: OWEN HINES

The identities of two police constables who were charged after an investigation into the death of former Ipswich Town player Dalian Atkinson can now be revealed.

Police constables Benjamin Monk (right), who is accused of the murder of Dalian Atkinson, and Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith (left), who is accused of assaulting him on the same date, leave Birmingham Crown Court after a review hearing. Picture: Steve Parsons/PA WirePolice constables Benjamin Monk (right), who is accused of the murder of Dalian Atkinson, and Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith (left), who is accused of assaulting him on the same date, leave Birmingham Crown Court after a review hearing. Picture: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Mr Atkinson, 48, died after police used a Taser near his father's house during an incident in Telford in August 2016.

Police Constable Benjamin Monk from West Mercia Police was charged with the former striker's murder last week, while his colleague PC Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith was charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Both officers appeared in court last week and were granted an anonymity order which prevented publication of their names due to concerns about their safety.

Judge Simon Drew QC made changes to the order at Birmingham Crown Court on Wednesday to allow the officers to be named, after hearing submissions from media organisations opposing the anonymity orders.

They argued that the anonymity orders were an "unjustified" and serious interference with common law open justice principles.

He went into cardiac arrest in an ambulance on his way to hospital and medics were unable to save him.

The Crown Prosecution Service announced last week that Pc Monk, 41, had been charged with murder and with unlawful act manslaughter as an alternative offence which, the CPS said, "is a lesser offence that a jury may consider if it first finds that the more serious charge has not been proved".

PC Bettley-Smith, 29, has indicated that she will plead not guilty to the charge of assault.

Both officers are from Shropshire, but a court order currently prevents the media from reporting exactly where they live.

Mr Atkinson began his footballing career with Ipswich Town in 1985, scoring 18 goals in 60 league games befoe playing for Sheffield Wednesday, Aston Villa and Manchester City.

Speaking last week on behalf of the family of Mr Atkinson, solicitor Kate Maynard, of Hickman and Rose, said: "Dalian's family welcomes the decision to put the conduct of police officers before a jury but regrets that already more than three years have passed since Dalian died."

Mr Atkinson's case was referred to the CPS to consider potential charges by the police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

A plea and trial preparation hearing in the case has been scheduled for December 9. Both officers are on unconditional bail until then.

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