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Shadow from TV’s Gladiators has been jailed for more than six years after threatening to break a man’s legs with a hammer during a violent plot to settle a £1,000 drug debt.
Former bodybuilder Jefferson King, 61, acted as a ‘lieutenant’ to ringleader Simon Batson, 38, as they held victim Aaron Ali captive over the unpaid money.
It is said King threatened to “chop off his fingers and ears”, and when Mr Ali made an attempt to escape the former TV star asked an accomplice to “fetch a hammer to break his legs so he could not run away again”, said prosecutor Keith Hadrill.
Judge Fiona Barrie sentenced King to six years and three months in prison at Isleworth crown court, while Batson was sentenced to six years and nine months in prison. Ottis Noel, 45, was ordered to serve a seven and a half year sentence.
“A plan was hatched by the four defendants to extort money from Mr Ali’s family”, she said.
“He was subjected to a sustained and brutal attack over several hours, and from lunchtime until 9pm he said he was tortured by the group.”
She said Mr Ali “was treated as less than a human by people he knew, all for drugs and money”.
Batson’s girlfriend Donna Harman, 42, is due to be sentenced later.
King shot to fame in the 1990s as one of the original Gladiators on the hit ITV gameshow. However, he left the limelight in disgrace after testing positive for steroids.
The court heard King has been hooked on class A drugs for his whole adult life, since growing up in The Bronx during New York crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s.
He has a string of convictions for theft to feed his drug habit, and has also been caught in the past carrying an imitation firearm.
Mr Ali was held captive after attending Batson’s home on the morning of March 22 last year, where class A drugs were being taken.
“Things took a turn for the worst for Mr Ali when Mr Noel and Mr King attended,” said the prosecutor.
“Mr Ali faced demands that he pay a drug debt to a third party. He was punched and threatened, and it was then decided as he had no money to pay the required debt that demands were made to his estranged wife.”
Mr Hadrill said Mr Ali’s wife and a family member were blackmailed for up to £1000 in order to secure his release.
“There are films showing Mr Ali being assaulted and being beaten around the face”, said the prosecutor.
“They show his bloodied face, and him crying ‘no, no, please’ with regard to blows to his body.”
Mr Ali’s family agreed to pay the blackmail demand, prompting a handover of cash in Acton when the victim was finally released.
The court heard neighbours at the flat heard noise as Mr Ali was held and attacked over six-and-a-half hours, but were told by Harman it was just the sound of a PlayStation game.
Batson and King pleaded guilty to two charges of blackmail, while Harman and Noel were convicted after trial of two charges of blackmail and one count of false imprisonment.