A father who was tortured and held hostage by a gang, including a former Gladiators star has spoke of how he feared for his life during the ordeal.
Aaron Ali's family were sent footage of him bleeding and beaten, demanding money for his release from the mother of his children.
Aaron could be heard begging for mercy from the group of thugs which included Michael Jefferson King, better known as Shadow from the hit ITV 1990s show, reports The People.
Among the gang was leader Simon Batson, who hit Aaron in the face with a 12in knife and Otis Noel, who stuck him with a metal pole.
Two videos in total were sent to dad-of-five's ex-partner threatening more harm to Aaron if she did not come up with £1,000.
Aaron, 41, said to the Sunday People: “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.”
Former drug user Aaron said he took Class A substances with King before the March 2020 attack – and as a child had looked up to Shadow on the popular ITV sports game show.
Aaron met King and his associates after turning to crack cocaine and heroin around five years ago when his relationship with his ex broke down. “I’d go to King’s place and buy and share drugs with him,” he said.
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The gang took Aaron hostage at a flat in Acton, West London, to settle a drug debt. They wrongly believed that he and Sophie had access to big money.
The eight-hour ordeal began after Batson, 39, accused him of flirting with his girlfriend, then struck him with the blunt side of a 12-inch blade.
Aaron recalled: “He fractured my nose, it started bleeding. They all came around me – each person had a tool.
“King had a wooden stick, Noel had a metal pole. Batson had the knife and a flat-head screwdriver he threatened to stab me with. I tried explaining [my ex-partner] is a single mum on benefits and couldn’t give the money.
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“I gave up hope. I was thinking, ‘I’m not going to see my kids again’.”
Aaron's ex dialled the police after receiving the videos and officers took her and the children to a safehouse.
Aaron was spared when the gang bundled him into a car and handed him over to a pal for £600. They were arrested that night
Their victim was treated in hospital for bruising to the head, eyes and body, a fractured nose and cuts to the legs
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The ordeal was a wake-up call for Aaron, who joined a detox programme and now works in hospitality.
Last week, King was jailed for six years and three months and Batson for six years and nine months.
Both men, from Acton, admitted blackmail. Mum-of-two Harman, 41, of Acton, and Noel, 45, of Ealing, West London, were convicted of blackmail and false imprisonment following a trial in May.
Harman was last week jailed for four years and Noel for seven-and-a-half. Michael and Shila Tyson, both 55, were cleared of aiding and abetting false imprisonment. Now, Aaron fears the gang will only serve half their terms.
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