A bodybuilder well-known for his starring performance in the 1990s television show Gladiator has been jailed for his part in a blackmail plot over a drugs debt.
Michael Jefferson King, known to millions as Shadow from the ITV game show, was one of four people who kept a man detained in a flat in Acton, west London, during a torturous attack lasting about eight hours.
Michael Jefferson King as a lieutenant to the plot, which ended in Aaron Ali being beaten and filmed for extremely distressing videos sent to his family to obtain payment of up to £1,000 to let him go.
At one stage, Michael Jefferson King was claimed to have ordered a co-defendant to get a hammer to break his legs after Aaron Ali tried to escape.
Michael Jefferson King, 60, a long time user of crack cocaine and heroin, was given a sentence of 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 sentenced for their part in the plot.
The judge, Her Honour Judge Fiona Barrie, said that a conspiracy was planned by the four defendants to extract money from Mr Ali’s family and that he was subjected to a sustained and cruel attack over numerous hours, and from lunchtime until 9 pm he said he was tortured by the group.
She said that Mr Ali said he was treated as less than a human by people he knew, all for drugs and money.
King, who was born in London to Jamaican parents, moved to New York aged 14, where he entered the school American football team.
He later returned to England, where he met his wife and fathered two children before being selected as a Gladiator for the original 1992 series hosted by Ulrika Jonsson.
In 1995 King was caught snorting cocaine, then axed from the ITV show after testing positive for steroids.
He later turned to heroin and crack cocaine, lost his home and family and served a series of jail sentences.
In 2009 he went into rehab and stayed clean, revealing in 2011 that he’d beaten his habit and worked at a rehab clinic to help people suffering from drug problems, but last year he was arrested for heroin possession.
The shadow of his former self displayed no emotion as the sentence was announced.
And how life can go so terribly wrong, but at the end of the day, it’s all about making choices, and all for one thousand pounds, and a six-year jail sentence, but sadly this man is a drug addict and they get so blurred that all they can think about is their next fix.
What King did was appalling and clearly, he deserves to be jailed, but it’s also quite sad to see him end up like this, and if there’s a lesson to learn it’s that life is corrupted by drug use, and can only lead to a spiralling problem and loss.
Drugs affect countless people in many ways and this is a sad and melancholy story for a man that many kids wanted to aspire to, but there’s no aspiring to this man!
And what a wasted life – it’s all over for him now, just an old man washed up ex celebrity, and how the mighty has fallen.
It’s just a pity that this man can’t shake his demons. Addiction begins with the hope that something out there can instantly fill up the void inside, but in fact, it kills whatever is left.