Heart specialist

Heart specialist takes position in Dalian Atkinson murder trial

A specialist in cardiac intensive care told jurors in the murder trial it was impossible to indicate the “exact contribution” of 12 factors linked to the death of former Ipswich Town footballer Dalian Atkinson.

Professor Charles Deakin told Birmingham Crown Court the management of the 48-year-old by paramedics was “sub-optimal” and failed to detect possible “early warning signs”, the former attacker was seriously ill.

The Crown alleges that West Mercia Police HQ Benjamin Monk murdered the retired attacker by kicking him at least two in the head, with the intention of inflicting serious damage on him.

Monk, 43, has pleaded not guilty to murder and manslaughter charges, while Pc Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, 31, denies assaulting Mr Atkinson with a baton outside his father’s home in Trench , Telford, in August 2016, after the ex-footballer uttered threats and smashed a window.

Speaking to jurors on Friday after being called as an expert witness by Monk’s defense team, Professor Deakin said he produced a report on the circumstances of the death in June 2020.

Professor Deakin, who works for the University Hospital Southampton NHS Trust and flies the Hampshire and Isle of Wight air ambulance regularly, said two pathological processes led to Mr Atkinson having an enlarged heart.

Asked by QC defense Patrick Gibbs whether Mr Atkinson’s pre-existing health conditions posed a high risk of sudden death, Professor Deakin told the court: “I think it’s always difficult to quantify these things… there is a lot of factors.

“Someone who sits quietly with their body unstressed is not at the same risk of death as someone who has engaged in some physical activity.

“We have to consider the circumstances in which he found himself, both before and after the encounter with the police.”

Professor Deakin, who was asked for his opinion on 12 factors, including the effect of pain from a 33-second Taser deployment, kicks and psychological stress, added: “It is very difficult to separate everything.

“I think the complex interplay between all of the issues we’ve talked about makes it impossible to disentangle a specific factor in terms of being certain of its exact contribution.

“The same risks that Tasering generated were also produced by physical exertion and prior stress. It is really impossible to distinguish the relative contributions of the two.

Asked about Mr Atkinson’s monitoring by paramedics, Professor Deakin said he believed they did not appreciate the severity of his condition and did not appear to have taken a blood pressure measurement.

The witness said: “I think they may have missed some of the warning signs.”

The trial continues.


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