This astonishing mugshot of Shadow from ITV’s Gladiator series with hollow cheeks and dead eyes has been issued by police after he admitted taking part in a drug-fuelled blackmail plot.
Jefferson King had demanded £1,000 last year from a mother for the safe return of her son who was allegedly being held hostage by a gang.
The former bodybuilder, who is barely recognisable from his 1990s heyday after years of drug abuse, is currently in custody awaiting sentencing at the conclusion of a trial of other alleged blackmailers.
Jurors at Isleworth Crown Court were told that King, now 59, was ‘known as Shadow in Gladiators’, a popular sports entertainment game show broadcast on ITV and later Sky 1 in the UK.
This astonishing mugshot of Shadow from ITV’s Gladiator series with hollow cheeks and dead eyes has been issued by police after he admitted taking part in a drug-fuelled blackmail plot
Jurors at Isleworth Crown Court were told that King, now 59, was ‘known as Shadow in Gladiators’, a popular sports entertainment game show broadcast on ITV and later Sky 1
Jefferson King, Ulrika Jonsson, and Michael Aherne in ITV’s Gladiator series
King, who was born in London to Jamaica parents, moved to New York aged 14, where he joined the school American football team before becoming an addict during the 1970s crack boom.
But he got clean and moved back to England, where he met his wife and fathered two children before being recruited as a Gladiator for the original 1992 series hosted by Ulrika Jonsson.
In 1995 King was caught snorting cocaine, then axed from the ITV show after testing positive for steroids.
He later turned to heroin and crack cocaine, lost his home and family and served a succession of prison sentences.
In 2009 he went into rehab and stayed clean, revealing in 2011 that he had beaten his addiction and worked at a rehab clinic to help people suffering from drug problems.
However, by last year he was back on illegal drugs – and last March King was charged with heroin possession.
Former bodybuilder King was recruited as a Gladiator for the original 1992 series
Left to right: Wolf (Michael Van Wijk), Shadow (Jefferson King), host Ulrika Jonsson, Saracen (Mike Lewis), and Cobra (Michael; Wilson) for Season 3 of Gladiators, 1994
A week later, just days before lockdown, a court heard how he was involved in a blackmail plot after a day of smoking drugs ‘degenerated rapidly’, according to the Sun.
Prosecutors told jurors at Isleworth Crown Court how victim Aaron Ali was held for a ‘significant’ period of time at a flat in Acton, West London.
Mr Ali, 40, was allegedly gagged with a tissue placed in his mouth to muffle the screams and punched and kicked.
His mother Nosheen Zarait and his brother Tariq Ali were contacted and told to pay £1,000 for his safe return, prosecutors claim. He was held from 2pm until his release at 8.30pm, it was alleged.
Prosecutor Keith Hadrill told the court that King, of Acton, and another man, Simon Batson, 38, had both admitted two charges of blackmail.
Batson’s girlfriend Donna Harman, 42, Otis Noel, 45, along with Michael Tyson, 55, and wife Shila, 55, all deny charges including false imprisonment, blackmail and aiding and abetting false imprisonment.
Their trial continues.