A DAD who was held hostage byformer Gladiators star Shadow said he thought “he was going to die”.

Ali Aaron, 41, who was the victim of a drug-fuelled blackmail plot involving the former body builder, real name Michael Jefferson King.

He said the kidnappers threatened to send his body parts to his family if they did not stump up the cash.

In rare footage obtained by The Sunday People, the father was seen pictured bloodied and beaten in a ransom video sent to the mother of his child.

He was at the mercy of a gang of thugs including the former gladiators star King- who was best known for playing Shadow from the hit 1990 show.

In a clip, which was later played in court, the former TV athlete, 60, allegedly hit Aaron with a wooden furniture leg.

King was then joined by gang ringleader Simon Batson, who struck Mr Ali's face with a knife, and Otis Noel, who hit him with a metal pole.

Mr Alisaid: “They told me if she can’t get the money we will send pieces of your body – fingers and stuff – to her. I was terrified.

“I thought I would be left to die or they would kill me.”

Other footage also emerged of a Whatsapp call made to the dad of five’s loved one – demanding £1,000 in cash for his release.

The online call was made to prove the gang had him hostage– kicking him in the face as she listened in horror.

She explained “They kept calling, telling me they were going to kill him.

“I could hear him in the background, them hurting him and him screaming in agony, begging to get the money.

“It is such a horrible experience to see the father of your kids bleeding and crying for help.”

Mr Ali's ordeal only ended when the gang bundled him into a car and handed him over to a pal for £600.

They were swiftly arrested that night, after his partnerr called the authorities.

It emerged later that Mr Ali had previously been involved with King who is now barely recognisable from his 1990s heyday after years of drug abuse.

And last week the former Gladiators star was jailed for six years after admitting taking part in the drug-fuelled plan.

King was was one of the four people who kept the man detained in a flat in Acton, west London, during the torturous attack lasting around eight hours.

He was described as a "lieutenant" to the plot and at one stage, was alleged to have ordered a co-defendant to "fetch a hammer to break his legs" after Mr Ali tried to flee.


He had been in custody awaiting sentencing at the conclusion of a crown court trial of other alleged blackmailers.

Three other defendants, Simon Batson, Donna Harman, and Otis Noel, were also sentenced for their role in the plot.

Judge Fiona Barrie, said: "A plan was hatched by the four defendants to extort money from Mr Ali'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."

She said Mr Ali said "he was treated as less than a human by people he knew, all for drugs and money".

King showed no emotion as he was sentenced.

London-born King moved to New York aged 14 where he became a crack addict.

A sustained and brutal attack over several hours,

But he got clean and moved back to England, where he met his wife and fathered two kids before being recruited as a Gladiator for the original 1992 series.

In 1995 he was caught snorting coke, then axed from the ITV show after testing positive for steroids.

King later turned to heroin and crack cocaine, lost his home and family and served a succession of prison sentences.

He went into rehab in 2009 and stayed clean, resuming his relationship with his children.

King said he was shunned following his sacking, saying: “I felt like a leper after Gladiators.

“I was on the ­biggest programme there was – ­bigger than Blind Date and Noel’s House Party. It felt like I’d had a life and then all of a sudden I didn’t.”

By last year he was back on the narcotics.

Last March, King, of Acton, West London, was charged with heroin possession.

A week later, days before lockdown, a court heard how he was involved in a blackmail plot after a day of smoking drugs “degenerated rapidly”.

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