The pair of police officers who faced court over Dalian Atkinson’s death started dating in a McDonald’s Drive-Thru and were the subject of an internal investigation, as the force they worked for denied any knowledge of their relationship.
PC Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, 31, and PC Benjamin Monk, 43, have both appeared before a jury this week for a case involving the death of former Aston Villa star Dalian Atkinson.
The pair were lovers at the time of the ex-Premier League striker’s death, although West Mercia Police denied any knowledge of their relationship when questioned by MailOnline.
Their near two-year association began after Monk ‘seduced’ the younger Bettley-Smith while they sat in a McDonald’s Drive-Thru after the pair were assigned on patrol together.
A friend also described how Monk was ‘besotted’ with Ms Bettley-Smith after she joined West Mercia Police in February 2015, and that the duo’s fling was investigated internally.
Friends described how PC Benjamin Monk, 43 (right) was ‘besotted’ with new recruit Pc Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, 31 (left) as he seduced her in a McDonald’s Drive-Thru
Benjamin Monk, 43, and Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, 31, at Birmingham Crown Court in 2019. The officers were lovers at the time of Mr Atkinson’s death
A jury has been discharged at Birmingham Crown Court after failing to reach a verdict on West Mercia Pc Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith (pictured), who is accused of assaulting ex-footballer Dalian Atkinson
A friend told the Mirror how PC Monk was ‘besotted’ with Ms Bettley-Smith and was determined to date her after she joined the West Mercia Police force in early 2015.
Monk managed to ‘seduce’ the young officer while out on patrol together as they sat ‘drinking coffee’ in a McDonald’s Drivu-Thru.
The friend said: ‘It was very much low-key. Only a few fellow officers knew they were together.’
The duo were an official item at the time of Dalian’s death in 2016, after dating for almost two years. Friends say they split acrimoniously in June 2018.
Their relationship was subject to an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct – although there are no official restrictions on officers dating at the workplace, it is ‘best practice’ to inform line managers.
West Mercia Police said they ‘not aware’ of the relationship between the officers at the time of Dalian Atkinson’s death.
The force adopted new rules on workplace relationships three years after Atkinson’s death.
West Mercia Police denied any knowledge of the pair’s near two-year fling, as it was revealed they were subject to an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct
Dalian Atkinson (pictured scoring for Villa against his former club Ipswich in 1992) died on August 15 outside his father’s home in Telford, Shropshire in 2016
In a statement, West Mercia Police said: ‘West Mercia Police adopted the College of Policing guidelines on workplace relationships in 2019.
‘These guidelines outline appropriate relationships, how they can affect fairness in the workplace, and what each individual’s personal responsibilities are to declare any conflicts of interest.
‘There is also guidance and best practice for supervisors.’
Ms Bettley-Smith, the female officer accused of assaulting Atkinson when he was killed by her colleague, could face a retrial after a jury failed to reach a verdict this week.
Her colleague and ex-boyfriend Benjamin Monk was cleared of murdering the former Ipswich Town footballer – but was convicted of the 48-year-old’s manslaughter after a jury spent more than three days deliberating.
He killed Mr Atkinson, 48, by blasting him with a Taser and then kicking him twice in the head after the footballer claimed he was ‘the Messiah’ near his Telford home in August 2016.
Back row left to right, Nick Barmby, Jamie Redknapp, Dalian Atkinson, front row Ray Parlour, Chris Waddle, Paul Ince and Gary Speed pose in a Hot Tub whilst filming a Televsion advert for Sky Sports
PC Benjamin Monk discharged a Taser on Atkinson and kicked him twice in the head when he killed him outside his Telford home in August 2016
Atkinson confronted police on this quiet cul-de-sac in Telford, Shropshire, in August 2016. Pictured is the emergency services response on the night
As he lay incapacitated, he was then allegedly kicked in the head repeatedly by Monk, so hard that his boot was imprinted on the former footballer’s skull.
Bettley-Smith is then said to have struck the incapacitated Mr Atkinson with a baton several times while Monk shouted ‘f***ing hit him’.
The case is believed to be the first time an officer has faced a murder charge after a person was Tasered by police – and it is the first time in 35 years that a police officer has been convicted of manslaughter committed in the course of his duties.
The court heard that Monk, who has 14 years’ service in uniform, and Bettley-Smith, who joined the West Mercia force in February 2015, were in a relationship at the time of the incident.
Bettley-Smith gave a glowing review of Monk, describing him as ‘very caring and lovely guy’.
She told the court: ‘We got on very well. He is very kind, very caring and a very, very lovely guy.’
‘His temperament? ‘He always conducted himself very well. Always very polite.
‘I admired the way he is so polite and easy going. He had an effortless charm and could talk to anybody and put them at ease.
‘Ben was one of those who on shift was known as the go to man. The one who knew about everything.
‘He was the officer others went to for advice. He was very knowledgeable and a good police officer.’
In his earlier days, disgraced PC Benjamin Monk was a distinguished and promising golfer – becoming junior captain at his local club.
His parents both played golf and introduced him to the game.
He twice won a juniors’ cup as a teenager and played off a five handicap at Bridgnorth Golf Club in Shropshire.
A woman who knew him told The Mail: ‘He was a happy-go-lucky chap and a well-thought-of young man – you don’t get to become junior captain if you are not.’