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Dalian Atkinson trial: Jury discharged after failing to reach verdict

Dalian Atkinson trial: Jury discharged after failing to reach verdict
Former Aston Villa player died in Telford in August 2016 after being Tasered three times, trial told

A jury has been discharged after failing to reach a verdict on a police officer accused of assaulting ex-footballer Dalian Atkinson with a baton after he was Tasered to the ground.

The case against West Mercia probationary constable Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, 31, ended in a hung jury a day after PC Benjamin Monk was convicted of the former Aston Villa player’s manslaughter and told he will face an “inevitable” prison term.

Jurors deliberated for more than 21 hours at Birmingham Crown Court before telling the trial judge they would be unable, even if given further time, to reach a verdict on a charge alleging Ms Bettley-Smith used unlawful force.

She told her trial she used necessary force to defend herself and others, but prosecutors claimed she had exaggerated the threat posed by Mr Atkinson to “help” Monk’s attempt to justify excessive force.

A six-week trial was told Monk, 43, fired a Taser three times – including a single 33-second discharge – and left two bootlace prints on Atkinson’s forehead near his father’s home in Meadow Close, Telford, in August 2016.

Jurors took 18 hours and 48 minutes to reach unanimous verdicts on Monk, who is believed to be the first police officer since 1986 to be found guilty of unlawful killing over a death in custody or following police contact in England and Wales.

The Crown was granted seven days by Judge Melbourne Inman QC to decide whether to seek a re-trial of Ms Bettley-Smith on the assault charge.

West Mercia Police Constables Benjamin Monk (right) and Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith (left) arrive at Birmingham Crown Court

She was given unconditional bail and the case against her was adjourned until Monday, when her West Mercia Police colleague Benjamin Monk is expected to face sentence.

If a re-trial of Ms Bettley-Smith does take place, the court heard, it is unlikely to take place until late next year.

Additional reporting by Press Association