Gladiators' Shadow 'threatened to kneecap man with a hammer', court told

The bodybuilder who played “Shadow” on television gladiators threatened to kneel a man with a hammer if his family did not pay a ransom of £ 1,000, a court heard.

Michael Jefferson King, 59, faces jail after confessing his role in extortion.

Victim Aaron Ali, 40, was allegedly detained in an apartment in Acton, west London by a gang including King last March because a friend owed them money.

Isleworth Crown Court heard the former gladiator and 38-year-old Simon Batson admitted two blackmail charges and were later convicted.

Batson’s girlfriend Donna Harman, 42, Otis Noel, 45, and Michael Tyson, 55, and Ms. Shila, 55, are currently on trial and denying charges such as false detention, extortion, and aiding and abetting wrongful imprisonment.

The jury heard the victim’s wife, mother, and brother, Tariq Ali, have been contacted and asked to pay £ 1,000 for his safe return.

While King, Batson, Harman and Noel were reportedly in the apartment where Mr. Ali was being held and attacked, the Tysons reportedly drove him to the bureau de change in High Wycombe, Berks.

In a police interview played in front of a jury, Mr. Ali said Batson was “80% responsible” for the extortion, while Noel “took instructions” and King “made suggestions”, including a hammer to help him kneel.

He said to an officer, “I’ve known Jefferson for a number of years. I’ve always seen him from around here. As a child, I watched gladiators.

“Jefferson’s apartment was kind of a social meeting place. Instead of using the street, it was like a safe haven; everyone would just go there.”

Mr. Ali said he was sitting in a park with a friend who is said to have owed the defendants money and suddenly ran away.

He said, “I rolled a cigarette. My full attention is not on my surroundings, but on my hands. Someone put her hand on my shoulder.

“There were two people behind me and it just happened so fast that I just didn’t know what was going on until they explained it.

“I felt the tip of something sharp on my back. I know the person who had the knife was Simon. When we got back into the apartment, he had a knife in his hand. He waved it around.”

He said a group of five men, which included King, Batson and Noel, told him he was “part of the debt” owed to them.

Mr. Ali said, “I was petrified. I had a feeling for people [my friend] were involved were dangerous. When we got to the apartment, they kept repeating themselves so as not to make sudden movements and saying, “We have to pay this debt.”

“I tried to ask them and say I don’t understand why I should pay and they kept asking that someone had to pay and that you were friends with them. We believe you are part of the debt.”

The cast of gladiators

He said members of the group then attacked him with a metal rod, kicked him and beat him until he told them to call his wife.

The jury heard the group call Mr. Ali’s wife who told them she was a single mother and could not afford to pay them the £ 1,000 ransom.

Mr. Ali said, “When she refused, they started attacking me so she could hear me scream and ask for help. They did it on purpose.

“I begged her, ‘please don’t hurt me’. She said ‘don’t hurt him, what do you want?’

“They made a video where I was kicked and slapped in the face. They laughed. They said you can’t see the blood, let’s do it again. I think they made three videos.

Gladiator Shadow, aka Jefferson King, as he looked in 1993

“Mr. Ali once said Harmon came into the room and asked the men if they wanted a cheese and cucumber sandwich.”

He said, “You have a cheese and cucumber sandwich while I sit bleeding.

“I’m not allowed to go to the bathroom or even breathe because I had a plastic bag over my head, but they are sitting there eating a sandwich. I was scared and thought I would see my kids again, what I did deserve this?

“He said when the gang attacked him again he could” feel his bones creak “.

At that point, King suggested that he kneel, Mr. Ali said. He told officers, “Jefferson actually suggested that I get a hammer and break my kneecaps once.

He said, ‘Why don’t we get this flat headed hammer and break our kneecaps? We’re going to break his kneecaps to let you know we mean business and you don’t run away. ‘

“Mr. Ali said he did not get a kneecap and had to stretch out his hands while a bar hit them.

He said, “I was in so much pain.”

Mr Ali said he believed King hit him “about three or four times” and not “attacked him as much as the others”. Harman of Burlington Gardens, Acton, Noel of Wendover Court, Acton, deny false imprisonment and two extortion cases.

The Tysons of Grafton Road in Ealing deny complicity in wrongful imprisonment.

King and Batson both admitted two extortion cases.

The process continues.


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