The police officer who killed ex-Aston Villa footballer Dalian Atkinson has been jailed for eight years.
Jailing Pc Benjamin Monk, the Recorder of Birmingham, Melbourne Inman QC, said the sentence reflected the importance of maintaining public confidence in the police.
The judge said: "You have let yourself and the force down.
"Although they were difficult, you failed to act appropriately in the circumstances as they developed and you used a degree of force in delivering two kicks to the head, which was excessive and which were a cause of Mr Atkinson’s death.
"The obvious aggravating factor is that you committed this offence while on duty as a police officer."
The judge added: "The police play a central and important role in upholding the rule of law in our society. The sentence must reflect the importance of maintaining public confidence in our police."
Monk, who the judge accepted had shown genuine remorse, was ordered to serve two-thirds of his eight-year sentence before being entitled to release on licence.
It emerged on Monday that Monk was found guilty of gross misconduct before he killed the footballer after failing to mention two cautions on his application to join the force.
Birmingham Crown Court was told Benjamin Monk kept his job with West Mercia Police in 2011 after being found to have breached required standards for honesty and integrity.
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.
Addressing the court on Monday, prosecutor Alexandra Healy QC said: "Mr Monk was cautioned for theft from a shop as an employee – he was employed at the time at Woolworths in 1997.
"There was a further caution in 1999 for being found drunk."
The court was told the warnings were not recorded on a computer system because of policies at the time for dealing with spent cautions.
Ms Healy added: "When he applied to join the police in 2001 he did not disclose the existence of those cautions."
The court heard Monk did disclose one of the cautions on a vetting form issued "during the course of his role as a police officer" in 2010.
Ms Healy added: "At that stage he did disclose the theft caution, which led to the discovery of both of the cautions."
Disciplinary proceedings were then launched and as a result Monk was found to have committed gross misconduct, breaching standards for honesty, and he was given a final written warning for a period of 18 months on February 2 2011.
During submissions from Monk’s QC, Patrick Gibbs, Judge Melbourne Inman QC said the cautions were of no relevance "in the circumstances of the case" and he would treat the officer as being of previous good character when he is sentenced.
‘There will never be a day when Monk doesn’t think about how things might have gone differently’
After family victim impact statements were read to the court on behalf of Mr Atkinson’s four siblings and his partner, Karen Wright, Mr Gibbs claimed the 43-year-old Pc’s mental health had been profoundly affected by the case.
He told the judge: "As you can imagine, Mr Monk has thought about Mr Atkinson and Meadow Close every day for the last four years and 10 months – reliving in his mind how these events might have ended differently.
"Perhaps there won’t ever be a day when he doesn’t think about that."
Mr Gibbs said it was agreed that Pc Monk went to Meadow Close "for the best of reasons" before 59 seconds during which his conduct had been found to be unlawful.
"The 59 seconds stand not just at odds with the previous five minutes, not just at odds with the previous five years, but at odds with the whole of his police career. In fact, at odds with the whole of his adult life."
Mr Gibbs conceded that his client “ let himself down and misduejged the amount of force required in the heat of the moment”, but asked the judge “which one us would say that we would’ve kept our heads in that moment?”.
The defence lawyer also argued that Monk couldn’t have known that Mr Atkinson was vulnerable with heart and kidney disease because “he looked mentally disturbed, but he looked physically robust”.
He told the court: “A very great deal of bad luck on both sides was needed for this tragic outcome.”
Since being suspended having been charged in 2019, Monk had been volunteering as a steward at vaccination centres during the pandemic.
Mr Atkinson’s death had taken its toll, Mr Gibbs said, and was prescribed antidepressants which he decided not to take.
Brother’s tribute: ‘He needed kindness rather than violence’
Here is the victim impact statement from Paul Atkinson.
Dalian and I were not just brothers, we were close mates.
We used to hang out together and I travelled abroad with him when he was footballing.
He loved fast cars and a good time, and we had great times together.
I was in shock when Dalian died. I saw him shortly before the incident and that has played on my mind.
I needed counselling to try and come to terms with what happened. I have re-lived it every day.
The last five years has been like a roller coaster that I could not get off.
Sitting through the trial has been incredibly draining and I feel hollow.
Dalian was always there for us and I still can’t understand that he isn’t here. He was loved by lots of people.
He was unwell and vulnerable and needed kindness and medical care when he died, rather than being subjected to such violence.
Sister’s loss: ‘I was looking out of a window and seeing that a part of this planet had broken away overnight, and was drifting off’
Here is the victim impact statement of Otis Atkinson:
I am Otis Atkinson, the sister of Dalian Atkinson and I am making this statement following the death of my brother, who died on 15 August 2016.
Dalian wasn’t just my little brother; he was my friend.
He was born just before my second birthday so for me, it was like he’d always been there.
He was kind and loving even as a little boy. I remember being ill and asleep in our living room when I was about six years old. I was woken from sleep by a cold feeling on my forehead. It was Dalian. He had kissed my forehead with his perpetually wet lips.
As we got older, we looked out for each other in school, and our friendship grew.
As an adult, he was caring and supportive towards me and my children. Being young at heart, he was a very approachable uncle; interested in what the children were doing; praising and encouraging them to make the most of their abilities. He was invariably kind and understanding towards me. That comfortable presence. Love. Home. And we would talk. If I phoned and asked if he was busy, He’d say, “You know I’ve always got time for you, sis. You know I’ve always got for you.” and then, Oh my phone bill.
I miss him.
I miss talking with him, and listening to his quirky observations. He had such an unusual personality: we never knew what he was going to say next. He’d say what no one else would dare say, and he had an ability to tease with such good-humour: he wouldn’t cause offence; he’d just make us laugh at ourselves.
When something remarkable happens; I want to tell him – but he’s not there anymore.
I miss him.
When he became very ill and couldn’t accept the diagnoses, it was incredibly hard to see him that way. Hard to see him weak and subdued, but then he finally got the appointment for the private care that he’d been asking for all along, and I was really hopeful about his future.
During a telephone conversation just a few hours before he died; while he was worrying about how ill he had become; he told me, “All I ever wanted was to make people happy. I played football the way that I did because I wanted to entertain. I wanted people to enjoy themselves and go home with smiles on their faces.”
He was overwrought, but I was thinking: he’ll be okay: this time tomorrow he’ll be at the clinic.
He never even made it there.
Losing Dalian has been devastating. It’s more than the pain and grief of losing him; it’s the knowledge that he didn’t go peacefully. It’s been harder because of the way that he went: hard to fully process.
He meant so much to my children, as well; especially to my eldest sons, Steven and Lloyd. They were already deeply affected by his death, and now that the details about how he died are out in the open; they are suffering even more.
It has been particularly tough because of the fact that he was famous and because of the circumstances of his death. So on day one, I was having to deal with relentless phone calls, while I was in shock. So far, all of the strangers who have seen the family resemblance and spoken to me have been pleasant, but I never know who’s going to say what.
There has been the long, drawn out process of just getting the case to trial, and then trial itself.
It’s been harrowing and wearing; it’s gone on and on. It has taken so long. And all of it has had to be borne in addition to being bereaved. And I’m not a young person.
I’m the youngest of Dalian’s brothers and sisters, and I was 50 at the time of his death. So, whatever any of us has had to endure as the result of his death, and whatever else we’re going to have to go through: we’re middle-aged people. This has been loaded on top of everything else that we already had on our minds.
It’s a weight: what happened to Dalian – and all of this. It’s exhausting.
A lot of the time, when I think about what happened to him, it feels too horrific to be real, then the facts hit home again – and again.
On that morning, what had happened to my brother struck me so profoundly; it was like I was looking out of a window and seeing that a part of this planet had broken away overnight, and was drifting off.
Sister has not been able to return to work in five years since death
Here is Elaine Atkinson’s impact statement:
I am Elaine Atkinson, the sister of Dalian Atkinson and I am making this statement following the death of my brother, who died on 15 August 2016
I am the eldest of the brothers and sisters of the family and Dalian was the youngest. To me he was always the baby of the family. I remember holding him in my arms when he was a baby and we were very close throughout his life. He was a happy and positive person and he would always stand up for me.
I was always so proud of him. Despite the success he had in his career he remained down to earth and we saw each other regularly even when he lived away. My daughter remembers how Dalian and I would always be laughing out loud together when we met.
I used to like to cook meals for him and I remember him being with me in the kitchen when I was cooking for him, just like my mother did before me.
When he became ill, I did whatever I could to support him and along with the rest of the family I was always there for him.
I could never have imagined losing Dalian in this way and I have been absolutely devastated by his loss. The grief and stress has had a profound impact on my health. I have not been able to return to work since it has happened.
Not a day goes by when I don’t miss my brother.
Brother: ‘I feel like my family are being picked on by the world and I don’t feel safe anymore’
I am Kenroy James Atkinson and I am making this victim personal statement following the death of my brother, Dalian Atkinson, on 15 August 2016.
I am one of four surviving siblings, the others being Elaine, Paul and Otis.
I did have an older brother, Basran, who remained in Jamaica when my family moved to the UK in 1958, but he died three or four years ago. Dalian was the youngest of all the siblings.
When I was informed of Dalian’s death I was traumatised. I had never been so upset in my entire life. At the time I was a civil servant who had not had a day off work sick for more than 11 years.
However, following Dalian’s death I had to have two weeks off work, as I could not function. I saw the doctor who prescribed sleeping pills as I could not switch off.
I have never before felt like this. I used to wake up each morning believing I had dreamt the whole thing, but sadly this was not true.
I found it difficult to function in the workplace when I returned. I work in an open plan office with up to 200 others, and everyone knew what had happened.
It is still difficult now as I am always thinking about what happened to Dalian. I don’t think these thoughts will ever go away. In a sense I feel like my family are being picked on by the world and I don’t feel safe anymore.
I have placed cameras on the front and rear of my house, I have a personal camera on my clothing, and a camera on my bicycle.
I am finding it difficult to get on with my life.
Although Dalian and I only saw each other three or four times a year we would text message frequently. Since he became ill I saw him a lot more, as I often, probably weekly, brought him back from dialysis and would take him out.
Dalian was always the confident, charismatic, happy member of the family. He would light up a room as soon as he entered. He was always willing to offer advice and help, and was totally dependable. I still can’t get over the feeling of loss, and I miss him dearly.
The Atkinson family’s tribute to Dalian Atkinson
We provide this statement to tell the Court about our brother, Dalian Atkinson, and it is the statement of us all
Our parents, Ernest Atkinson and his wife, Ambrozine Atkinson, came to the UK from Jamaica in 1958 as part of the Windrush generation.
In total our parents had eight children. Basran and Diane were born whilst they lived in Jamaica. When our parents came to this country they were left with our grandparents in Jamaica, as was common at the time. Diane died very young (aged about 2 years). Basran died a few years ago.
Elaine was born in the UK in 1961, then Kenroy, Paul, Otis and Dalian (dob 21st March 1968). A further son, John, was born after Dalian but he died a few days after birth.
In 1969 the family moved to Meadow Close, Telford and the five of us were brought up together in the family home.
We were a sporty family and Dalian from a young age played street football with his brothers and the other children in Meadow Close. Dalian also played football with a local football club, Admaston JFC, and for the County.
Dalian was also a talented basketball player and played for the county. His brother Paul also taught him Karate.
We all went to local schools and Dalian attended Wrockwardine Wood School. Dalian did not shine academically. His teachers commented that he was only interested in football and karate.
At the age of 16 Dalian was spotted by a talent scout and signed by Ipswich Town as an apprentice. He therefore left the family home and moved to Ipswich to live with a local family, whilst embarking on his football career.
He had considerable success as a footballer. In his career as a professional footballer he was to go on to play as a striker for the following teams:
During his time as a footballer, he had an active social life. He enjoyed the company of women and had a number of relationships. He also loved flash cars. We believe that Dalian had two children, although, as far as we know, he never played a role in their lives. Since his death we have been in contact with them both, and regularly speak to both of them.
In 1999 our mother died. As the youngest Dalian had always been close to our mother and it was clear that her death had a profound effect on him. He was to retire completely from professional football two years later.
After his football career, Dalian worked in a number of roles, including as a football coach. We saw a different side of him at this stage in his life. He would regularly telephone us and chat about all sorts of things, sometimes for hours.
Whilst Dalian used to exercise with his brother Paul, he stopped after his heart condition was diagnosed. However, he kept the extent of his health problems from his family. It was only in March 2016, when he was admitted to hospital, that we all became aware of how seriously ill he had become.
Dalian struggled with dialysis, and was ashamed of how weak he was – he didn’t want anyone to see him on his way in and out of appointments and covered his face with a cap.
In the last few years of his life, Dalian was living with his close friend, Jonteh. Jonteh provided a home to Dalian and in return Dalian helped Jonteh who had struggled with alcohol addiction. Jonteh died shortly after Dalian’s death. He had been severely affected by Dalian’s death.
Dalian was very excited about the prospect of his upcoming appointment at the private BMI Alexandra hospital, and was back to his old self in a way that we had not seen for years. Equally, Dalian was preoccupied and unhappy because he felt he had not had good enough treatment on the NHS and he should have had access to private healthcare much earlier. He thought that if had he had better care earlier, he would not be so unwell.
Whilst his illnesses clearly caused him distress, he was still hopeful for his future and a much-loved and loving member of our family.
We have all found his death devastating, as we have set out in our individual victim personal statements.