A bodybuilder who rose to fame on a smash hit 1990s television programme in the UK has been jailed for six years for his role in a blackmail plot over a drugs debt which saw a man beaten and tortured for eight hours.
Michael Jefferson King, who is familiar to millions as Shadow from the ‘Gladiators’ game show, formed part of a trio of men who kept a man detained in Acton, west London.
King has been described as a “lieutenant” in the plot, which resulted in the man being beaten up and filmed in a flat to make “highly distressing” clips that were sent to his family in order to prompt a ransom of up to £1,000 ($1,375) for his freedom.
At one point, King is alleged to have ordered one of his co-defendants to “fetch a hammer to break his legs” when the man attempted to flee.
#Breaking Michael Jefferson King, 60, better known as Shadow from ‘90s television show Gladiators, has been jailed at Isleworth Crown Court for six years and three months for his role in a blackmail plot
— PA Media (@PA) August 27, 2021
The biggest news of yesterday that has got over (shadowed)! Is that shadow from gladiators has been put in prison ! A sad day 😭
— richard morse (@fanmorse) August 28, 2021
King, 60 – a long-time crack cocaine and heroin user – was sentenced to six years and three months behind bars after admitting two counts of blackmail at a hearing at Isleworth Crown Court.
The three other defendants, including alleged ringleader Simon Batson, Donna Harman, and Otis Noel, have also been sentenced for their roles in the plot.
Her Honour Judge Fiona Barrie commented: “A plan was hatched by the four defendants to extort money from the victim’s family.
“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,” the judge added, adding that the victim was “treated as less than a human by people he knew, all for drugs and money”.
Reports say that King showed no signs of emotion as his sentence was passed down.
King, who has 20 previous convictions for 39 offences, looks almost unrecognizable from his heyday on ‘Gladiators’.
The one-time hulk is said to have been planning a career as a professional bodybuilder when he was approached by TV bosses with a view to becoming involved in the primetime hit.
King featured in three series of the show, which ran for more than 100 episodes between 1992 and 2000 and was later reprised in a mark of its enduring popularity.
He appeared at live shows at Wembley as part of the lineup of formidable athletes taking on contestants in various entertaining and sometimes-bizarre physical challenges.