An intensive cardiac care specialist told Dalian Atkinson’s murder trial that it was impossible to state the “exact contribution” of 12 factors linked to the ex-footballer’s death.
Professor Charles Deakin told Birmingham Crown Court that the management of the ex-star of Aston Villa, Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich Town by paramedics was “sub-optimal” and had not detected any possible “early warning signs”, the 48-year-old was gravely 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 31-year-old PC Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith 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 … a lot of factors.
“Someone who sits quietly with their body unstressed does not run the same risk of death as someone who has undertaken some degree of 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 have discussed makes it impossible to identify a specific factor to be certain of its exact contribution.
“The same risks that Tasering produced 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 any blood pressure.
The witness said: “I think they may have missed some of the warning signs.”
During his testimony, Professor Deakin was asked if it was safe to say that the kicks to the head had prevented Atkinson from regaining consciousness.
The expert replied: “It is impossible to quantify the exact effects of kicks to the head.
“In the absence of any significant pathology to the head, it is extremely unlikely that the injury resulting from the kicks to the head will be so severe that he will never regain consciousness.”
The trial was adjourned until Tuesday.