Racists are jailed for life after abducting and killing boy, 15

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The murder of a white schoolboy by a gang of Asians almost tore apart a community that was already rife with racial tensions. As details emerged of how the 15-year-old boy was dragged from the street, taken on a terrifying 200-mile drive, beaten, stabbed and burnt to death there were fears that Glasgow could erupt into racial violence.

Yesterday three men who murdered Kriss Donald were jailed for life with a recommendation that they serve a minimum of 70 years between them.

Mohammed Faisal Mushtaq, 27, Zeeshan Shahid, 28, and his brother Imran Shahid, 29, had all denied killing Kriss in Glasgow two years ago. A jury of six men and nine women at the High Court in Edinburgh took eight-and-a-half hours to convict them after sitting through 26 days of horrific evidence.

They had heard the prosecution describe how the schoolboy was dragged from the street, knifed 13 times and set on fire, probably while he was still alive.

Kriss was picked on purely because of the colour of his skin. The court was told that the gang was seeking revenge for an altercation in a nightclub in which their ringleader, Imran Shahid, was hit with a bottle.

Kriss, who had nothing to do with the row the night before, was snatched, at random, as he walked along Kenmure Street in the Pollokshields area of Glasgow on 15 March 2004. He was bundled into a car and taken on a 200-mile journey to Strathclyde Park, near Motherwell and to Dundee while his attackers looked for a place to kill him.

The boy, who had been heard screaming "I'm only 15, what did I do?" as he was abducted, was eventually returned to Glasgow and murdered on a piece of waste ground in the east end of the city.

The jury was told that Kriss was probably still alive when he was doused in petrol and set alight. Forensic experts said burns covered more than 70 per cent of his body. He was found on a walkway next to the river Clyde, near Celtic FC's training ground, the next day.

Described as slightly built, Kriss was so badly beaten and stabbed that one of his ribs was severed. Prosecutors described his death as an "appalling crime of inhumanity against a defenceless boy".

There were suspicions in the community about who was to blame, but the breakthrough came when police found the burnt-out car used in the abduction. Forensic scientists found traces of the boy's blood and Imran Shahid's DNA.

Within two weeks, two 20-year-old Asian men were arrested and eventually tried. Daanish Zahid denied murder but was convicted and jailed for life with the recommendation he serve at least 17 years. Zahid Mohammed was jailed for five-years after he admitted taking part in the abduction but not the murder.

The other three members of the gang, who were convicted yesterday, fled to Pakistan, which does not have an extradition treaty with Britain, within days of the murder. It was only the intervention of Mohammad Sarwar, the MP for Central Glasgow, which resulted in the men being brought back to Scotland to stand trial.

Fearing that the boy's brutal murder would lead to further violence and revenge attacks Mr Sarwar organised a string of meetings with Pakistani officials, including President Pervez Musharraf and the Prime Minister, Shaukat Aziz.

The British National Party tried to capitalise on the murder by claiming police had failed to crack down on violent Asian groups, forcing Kriss's mother, Angela, to appeal for calm.

Osama Saeed of the Muslim Association of Britain, said: "Crazy [Zeeshan Shahid] and his friends were really just very bad apples within Pollokshields - they terrorised the community for many years. People feared the murder would spark racial tensions but there were no revenge attacks after the murder. Residents handled it well.

"There are a lot of areas in Glasgow that have bad reputations. People focus on Pollokshields because of the ethnic mix, but these are antisocial problems rather than racial ones.

"Whether you are black, white or whatever, everyone was sick to the stomach about what happened to Kriss," Mr Saeed added.

Mr Sarwar said: "I think everyone just wanted to make sure these people were brought to justice. When the people from the white community think that people from the Asian community can commit a crime and escape justice, it doesn't send out the right signal.

"So there was a serious worry in my mind that there might be a serious police backlash against the ethnic community in Pollokshields and this country. I was worried about that."

After almost a year of diplomacy Mr Sarwar and UK officials managed to reach an agreement with the Pakistan authorities to create a one-off treaty that would allow a Pakistani judge to order the suspects' arrest. "I think it could have been very damaging for race relations in Scotland if these suspects were allowed to escape justice," said Mr Sarwar.

During the six-week trial it emerged that Imran Shahid was the ringleader of a gang of Asian thugs known as the Shielders who brought terror to the community. Passing sentence, Judge Lord Uist, who criticised the three men for their lack of remorse, described Imran Shahid as "a thug and bully with a sadistic nature not fit to be free in civilised society".

"You have all been convicted by a jury of the racially aggravated abduction and murder of Kriss Donald - a wholly innocent 15-year-old boy of slight build," Lord Uist told the men.

"He was selected as your victim only because he was white and walking in a certain part of the Pollokshields area of Glasgow when you sought out a victim."

Lord Uist recommended that Imran Shahid should spend at least 25 years behind bars, Zeeshan Shahid must spend 23 years in prison before being considered for parole and Mohammed Faisal Mushtaq will spend 22 years in prison.

Members of Kriss's family applauded as the men were led away to begin their jail terms. After the case, Kriss's mother, Angela, expressed her appreciation to the police and all those who helped bring her son's killers to court. "Justice has been done. Thank you. It is over," she said.

Killers with a string of convictions

Imran Shahid, 29

Known as "Baldy", was the ringleader of the Shielders gang which terrorised the south side of Glasgow for years. He was born in Huddersfield, the son of a businessman, and grew up in Pollokshields with his four brothers - including Zeeshan, his accomplice in Kriss Donald's murder - and three sisters. In 1994, when just 17 years old, he attacked a 25-year-old man with a baseball bat, leaving his victim in a coma with brain damage. His sadistic reputation was further enhanced when he chopped off the finger of a man who was dating his sister. Shortly before the murder of Kriss, he was released from a 30-month prison sentence for a road-rage attack on a 42-year-old woman whom he had punched to the ground and tried to run over. In the Kriss Donald case, he lodged a special defence of incrimination and accused a number of other men of the murder.

Zeeshan Shahid, 28

Like his brother has a criminal record for a number of offences. He served an 18-month sentence for culpable and reckless conduct and reckless damage. Renowned for his vicious temper, earning himself the nickname of "Crazy", he was the driver of the car in which Kriss was abducted and he helped to destroy evidence afterwards.

Mohammed Faisal Mushtaq, 27

Also known as Beck, has two previous convictions for assault and served a five-month prison sentence. He also has a string of previous convictions for road traffic offences and although he denied any involvement in the murder he was said to have called a friend asking for somewhere to "sort out" Kriss.