Thursday 29 September 2016

Former Aston Villa star Dalian Atkinson was in a 'booze-fuelled' rage before being Tasered by police - father

Independent.ie Newsdesk and agencies

Published 15/08/2016 | 11:11

Police officers at the scene, inset Dalian Atkinson
Police officers at the scene, inset Dalian Atkinson
Dalian Atkinson, inset, a police officer stands guard outside the estate where the incident occurred
A policeman stands outside an address in Meadow Close in the Trench area of Telford, after former Aston Villa footballer Dalian Atkinson died after he was Tasered by police early on Monday. Credit: Matthew Cooper/PA Wire

The dad of a former Premier League star who died after being tasered by police has said his son was "very agitated" and "upset" before someone called police.

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Speaking to the Birmingham Mail Ernest Atkinson (85) said the former Aston Villa star flew into a "booze-fuelled rage".

The 48-year-old, named locally as Dalian Atkinson, died around 90 minutes after he was hit by a stun gun in Meadow Close in the Trench area of Telford, Shropshire, at around 1.30am on Monday.

Officers were called to the home amid concerns "for the safety of an individual", and a Taser was used.

Ray Houghton and Dalian Atkinson react after score Mandatory Credit: David Rogers/ALLSPORT
Ray Houghton and Dalian Atkinson react after score Mandatory Credit: David Rogers/ALLSPORT

Speaking from his home, Ernest Atkinson told the newspaper: "He [Dalian] was in a real state.

"I don’t know if he was drunk or on drugs but he was very agitated and his mind was upset.

"The last thing he said to me was ‘don’t move’ when the police came to the door.

"He was threatening and very upset. I didn’t call the police but someone else did.

Aston Villa's Dalian Atkinson scores a goal (Photo by Bob Thomas/Getty Images)
Aston Villa's Dalian Atkinson scores a goal (Photo by Bob Thomas/Getty Images)

"He got Tasered in the street outside in the road. I didn’t see him but I saw a flash. I haven’t had any sleep and cannot take it in.

"The police are dealing with this now."

A neighbour, who did not want to be named, said: "I had known him since he was a little boy, he was a famous footballer at one time. He was friendly, he had no trouble that I know of."

Read More: John Aldridge: 'I'm struggling to come to terms with it. Dalian and I were close'

Aston Villa's Dalian Atkinson (right) celebrates with his Manager Ron Atkinson as they hold the League Cup trophy (Photo by Bob Thomas/Getty Images)
Aston Villa's Dalian Atkinson (right) celebrates with his Manager Ron Atkinson as they hold the League Cup trophy (Photo by Bob Thomas/Getty Images)

The police force put a statement on its website which read: "West Mercia Police can confirm that officers responded to a report for the concern for the safety of an individual at approximately 1.30am this morning at an address in Telford.

"Upon arrival Taser was deployed and a 48-year-old man, who subsequently received medical attention, was pronounced dead at approximately 3am.

"West Mercia Police are unable to comment any further as the incident has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) as is normal procedure, and will assist the IPCC with their inquiries."

Read more: Football world in mourning following tragic death of former Aston Villa legend Dalian Atkinson

This follows the death of ex-soldier Spencer Beynon in June, after he was Tasered by police in Llanelli, South Wales, after stabbing a dog and then himself.

Friends said he had suffered mental health problems after leaving the military.

Last year police use of Tasers, which are intended as a non-lethal weapon, went up slightly towards the end of 2015 with 10,329 uses by forces in England and Wales, a 2% rise on the previous year.

Read More: Dalian Atkinson profile: Old fashioned No 10 who won the hearts of Villa fans with passionate displays

However, of those, 19% (1,921) were discharges; a decrease of 3% from the previous year.

A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said: "We were called by West Mercia Police to an address in Meadow Close in the Trench area of Telford at about 1.45am this morning.

"An ambulance was dispatched and upon arrival found a man who had been Tasered.

"As he was being conveyed to Princess Royal Hospital, his condition deteriorated and he went into cardiac arrest.

"Despite the efforts of the crew and hospital staff, it was not possible to save him and he was confirmed dead at hospital, shortly after arrival."

Atkinson was a top flight striker in the 1990s, with a goal for league runners-up Aston Villa against Wimbledon, which followed a mazy run from inside his own half, being voted 1992-1993 goal of the season.

He went on to score at Wembley in 1994 as Villa beat Manchester United to lift the League Cup.

Starting his career at Ipswich he played for Sheffield Wednesday and Spanish side Real Sociedad before moving to Villa.

He scored more than 20 Premier League goals for the Birmingham side between 1991 and 1995 before going on to play less successfully for teams including Turkish side Fenerbahce and Manchester City.

He ended his playing career playing in South Korea in 2001.

Ipswich Town paid tribute on its Twitter feed, saying: "Terribly sad news about our former striker. Our thoughts are with Dalian's family and friends at this tragic time."

Sheffield Wednesday said on the social media site: "The thoughts of everyone at Wednesday are with the friends and family of Dalian Atkinson this morning. RIP".

Former team-mate Tony Daley, who played for Aston Villa at the same time as Atkinson, tweeted: "Devastating news...RIP Dalian" with an image of a broken heart.

Another ex-player, Ian Taylor, said: "Just heard news re my old team mate Dalian. Deepest condolences to his family. Only spoke to him last week as well. Sad sad news."

Former England defender Sol Campbell tweeted: "What?! Former @AVFCOfficial footballer Dalian Atkinson tasered?! Shocked & saddened by this news. Thoughts with friends & family. #RIPDalian".

Mr Atkinson's father, thought to be in his 80s, lives in Meadow Close and the footballer was believed to have been visiting him when police were called.

Neighbours said the retired star, who drives a Porsche, was well-known among people in the street, making frequent visits to the short cul-de-sac.

Speaking at a cordon set up by police to prevent people entering the street, local residents Matthew and Tina Bothwell said they were deeply shocked at Mr Atkinson's death.

Mr Bothwell, 43, told reporters: "Every time he would come he would have crowds around him. It's close-knit community.

"I just can't bear to think what his family are going through."

Mrs Bothwell added: "He was loving, caring and got on with everybody in the street. He always got on with the kids because they absolutely loved his car."

Local resident Paula Quinn said Mr Atkinson appeared to be "almost staggering" in the street before he was Tasered.

Miss Quinn, who lives in a first-floor flat above a barber's shop, claimed Mr Atkinson went down "like a lead balloon" after being hit by the Taser.

The witness added: "I heard shouting and something smashing, which is what alerted me to look out of the window.

"I am feeling a bit sick knowing that the poor lad has passed. I don't care what anybody has done. Nobody deserves to die as a result of something like that."

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