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 held 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.
Former bodybuilder who played Shadow on the 1990s Gladiators TV show was jailed for his role in a blackmail plot
Michael Jefferson King, 60, was jailed for six years and three months at Isleworth Crown Court
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 ringleaders Simon Batson, Donna Harman and Otis Noel, have also been convicted for their role in the plot.
The judge, Her Honor Judge Fiona Barrie, said: “A plan was developed by the four defendants to extort money from Mr. Ali’s family.
“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 said Mr Ali said “he was treated like less than human by people he knew, all for drugs and money.”
Jefferson King, Ulrika Jonsson and Michael Aherne in ITV’s Gladiator series
Former bodybuilder King was recruited as a gladiator for the original 1992 series
King, born in London to Jamaican parents, moved to New York City at the age of 14, where he joined the school’s American football team.
He then returned to England, where he met his wife and fathered two children before being recruited as Gladiator for the 1992 original series hosted by Ulrika Jonsson.
In 1995, King was caught snorting cocaine, then banned from the ITV show after testing positive for steroids.
He then turned to heroin and crack cocaine, lost his home and family, and served a series of prison terms.
In 2009, he entered rehab and stayed sober, revealing in 2011 that he had overcome his addiction and worked in a drug rehab clinic to help people with drug problems. Last year he was arrested for possession of heroin.
King showed no emotion when sentencing was handed down today.
From left to right: Wolf (Michael Van Wijk), Shadow (Jefferson King), host Ulrika Jonsson, Saracen (Mike Lewis) and Cobra (Michael; Wilson) for Gladiators season 3, 1994