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Former Gladiators star Jefferson King has been jailed for six years and three months for his part in a blackmail plot in which he threatened to kneecap a man.

The Shadow performer – full name Michael Jefferson King – pled guilty to two charges of blackmail for trying to extort a £1k ransom to feed his drug addiction.

Ex-bodybuilder King, 59 and pal Simon Batson (38) held victim Aaron Ali at a flat in Acton, West London, because one of his friends owed them money.

The Gladiators star even warned Mr Ali's wife he would take a hammer to the man's kneecaps if she failed to pay the £1k ransom.

In a police interview played to jurors at the April trial, 40-year-old Mr Ali said Batson was "80% in charge" of the blackmail plot, while associate Otis Noel was "taking instructions" and King was "making suggestions" including retrieving a hammer.

Co-conspirators Noel, 45, and 42-year-old Donna Harman were convicted in May of two charges of blackmail and one charge of false imprisonment.

Husband-and-wife Michael and Shila Tyson, both 55, were cleared of aiding and abetting false imprisonment for their suspected involvement in the plot.

King's shrunken body in his mugshot shows the star's tragic transition from bodybuilder to drug addict.

Isleworth Crown Court also heard in April that King was charged with heroin possession a week before he became involved in the sick plot.

King "degenerated rapidly," the court was told, with Mr Ali held for a "significant" time at the Acton flat.

Mr Ali told the court he begged for mercy and reminded the attackers he wasn't responsible for the debt, but they didn't listen.

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He said: "I tried pleading with them and saying I don't see why I should pay, and they just kept demanding 'someone needs to pay and you are friends with him, we believe you are part of the debt'."

Jurors then heard the group then began attacking him with a metal pole, kicking and punching him until he told them to call his wife.

At that point, King made the violent threat which landed him in even worse legal trouble.

Gladiators presenter Ulrika Jonsson wrote in the days following King's mugshot release that it shone a light on the hit 90s show's sleaze and corruption.

She wrote in her Sun column: “Yesterday’s mugshot of our biggest and most frightening Gladiator, Shadow, looking hollow-cheeked and well beyond his 59 years, on a charge of a drug-fuelled blackmailing plot, is a stark reminder that the show had its fair share of scandals."

  • Crime
  • Courts

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