Former Gladiators star jailed for drug debt blackmail plot


A bodybuilder famous for his starring role on the 1990s Gladiators TV show has been jailed for his role in a drug debt blackmail plot.

Michael Jefferson King, known to millions as the Shadow from the ITV game show, was one of four people who detained a man in an apartment in Acton, west London, during an attack of torture lasting about eight hours.

King has been described as a “lieutenant” in the plot, which ended in the beating of Aaron Ali and the filming of “very painful” videos sent to his family for payment of up to 1,000. £ to let him go.

At one point, King reportedly ordered a co-accused to “go get a hammer to break his legs” after Mr Ali tried to escape.

King, 60, a longtime crack and heroin user, was sentenced to six years and three months after admitting two counts of blackmail at Isleworth Crown Court.

Three other defendants, so-called ringleader Simon Batson, Donna Harman and Otis Noel, were also convicted for their role in the plot.

Her Honor Judge Fiona Barrie said: “A plan has been developed by the four defendants to extort money from Mr. Ali’s family.

Michael Jefferson King was jailed (Metropolitan Police / PA)

“He was subjected to a sustained and brutal attack for several hours, and from lunchtime until 9 pm, he said he was tortured by the group.

She added that Mr. Ali said “he was treated as less than human by people he knew, all for drugs and money.”

King showed no emotion when the sentence was handed down.

The court heard that Mr Ali initially showed up at Batson and Harman’s apartment around 9 a.m. on Sunday March 22, 2020 for a drug frenzy.

However, the atmosphere would have changed around lunchtime when supplies ran out.

Prosecutor Keith Hadrill said, “Things got worse for Mr. Ali when Mr. Noel and Mr. King attended.

“There seemed to be some disagreement over a debt declared due. Threats were made and things got out of hand.

“Demands have been made against him (Mr. Ali) and threats to pay a drug debt to a third party.

“He was beaten and threatened. It was decided, as he had no money to pay off the required debt, demands would be made to his ex-wife.

The court heard Batson telephoning Mr Ali’s ex-wife, during which Mr Ali could be heard “moaning in the background”.

On a subsequent phone call, one of the defendants could be overheard saying, “You know what, I’m going to cut off his fingers and his ears.”

It was never established who was responsible for the comment.

Mr Hadrill said Mr Ali subsequently tried to leave, but was prevented from doing so by the three men.

The prosecutor said King threatened to break Mr Ali’s knees and asked Noel to go get a metal bar. Noel refused.

Mr Ali was then held captive before being taken to a nearby Sainsbury’s at 9pm, when the money – up to £ 1,000 – was handed over for his release by a family friend.

It is not known how much was paid, although the figure was called “important” due to the limited means of the Ali family.

Mitigating, King’s defense attorney Stella Harris said his client had a promising career as an athlete, but time spent in New York City in the 1980s exposed him to classy drugs. A, which have become an “ingrained” feature of his life.

She said, “He was a professional bodybuilder, while having these periods of abstinence and success, but there were relapses, he lost his job, a relationship took a turn for the worse, and he turned to health. drug.

“This is the model so far.”

King, of Birkbeck Grove in Acton, has 20 previous convictions for 39 offenses, largely drug-related.

His co-defendant Batson, 39, of Burlington Gardens in Acton, west London, was sentenced to six years and nine months in prison on two counts of blackmail.

He could be heard complaining about the length of his sentence as he was pulled from the dock.

Her sentence was then reduced by a month after the judge said she made a mistake in calculating her remission for the first guilty pleas.

Noel, 45, of Wendover Court in Ealing, west London, was jailed for seven and a half years on two counts of blackmail and one count of bogus imprisonment.

Mother-of-two Harman, 41, who was allegedly “controlled and abused” by Batson, was sentenced to four years in prison on two counts of blackmail and one of bogus imprisonment for her “lesser role” in the crime.


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