Former 'Gladiators' star Shadow jailed for six years for blackmail plot

·Senior Editor
·2-min read
Michael Jefferson King as Shadow in Gladiators (ITV/Shutterstock)
Michael Jefferson King as Shadow in Gladiators (ITV/Shutterstock)

A bodybuilder famous for his starring role in 1990s television programme Gladiators 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 around eight hours.

King was described as a “lieutenant” to the plot, which ended in the man being beaten and filmed for “highly distressing” videos sent to his family to elicit a payment of up to £1,000 to let him go.

At one stage, King was alleged to have ordered a co-defendant to “fetch a hammer to break his legs” after the man tried to flee.

Read more: Ulrika Jonsson reveals 'bed-hopping' behind the scenes of 'Gladiators'

Undated handout photo issued by the Metropolitan Police of Michael Jefferson King, 60, better known as Shadow from '90s television show Gladiators, who has been jailed at Isleworth Crown Court for six years and three months for his role in a blackmail plot. Issue date: Friday August 27, 2021.
Michael Jefferson King, 60, better known as Shadow from '90s television show Gladiators, who has been jailed (PA)

King, 60, a long-time user of crack cocaine and heroin, was handed 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 role in the plot.

The judge, Her Honour Judge Fiona Barrie, said: “A plan was hatched by the four defendants to extort money from the victims family.

Shadow (Jefferson King) Ulrika Jonsson, Warrior (Michael Aherne) in Gladiators (ITV/Shutterstock)
Shadow (Jefferson King) Ulrika Jonsson, Warrior (Michael Aherne) in Gladiators (ITV/Shutterstock)

“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 the victim said “he was treated as less than a human by people he knew, all for drugs and money”.

King showed no emotion as the sentence was passed.

Watch: Whatever happened to the Gladiators?

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