Callous killer of schoolboy Kriss to spend at least 17 years in jail

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THE killer of the Glasgow schoolboy Kriss Donald was jailed for life yesterday after being found guilty of the abduction and murder of the teenager in what police described as a racially motivated attack.

Daanish Zahid, 20, broke down as he was ordered to serve a minimum of 17 years for murdering the 15-year-old who was snatched off the street as he played truant from school and later tortured to death.

Zahid had earlier been convicted by a jury of assaulting, abducting and murdering Kriss on 15 March this year. He had denied the charge, claiming the youngster was stabbed and attacked by others.

Sentencing Zahid at the High Court in Edinburgh yesterday, Lord Philip told him: "The public have a right to remain shocked and horrified by the callous, brutal and shocking nature of these crimes and the sickening ordeal which your victim had to go through."

The judge said that Zahid, a first-time offender, appeared to show no remorse for his participation in the crime or concern for his victim. Zahid was also told that, although he did not strike the fatal blow, he was still guilty of murder.

During the trial, the jury heard that Kriss and one of his friends, Jamie Wallace, were approached by a group, including Zahid, as they walked along Kenmure Street in the Pollokshields area of Glasgow and that the schoolboy was dragged into a silver Mercedes and taken on a 200-mile journey via Dundee.

The teenager was then driven to the Clyde Walkway in the East End of Glasgow, where he was repeatedly kicked, punched and stabbed 13 times before being set on fire.

He stumbled towards the Clyde before making a vain attempt to extinguish the flames by rolling around in a muddy hollow near the cycle path where he was discovered. The court was told his near- naked body was found the morning after the abduction behind the Celtic Supporters’ Club in London Road.

Before Zahid was sentenced, his solicitor told Lord Philip that his client had genuine remorse for his actions, adding that Zahid had been left to shoulder the collective responsibility of the group. The court also heard that his family had been receiving race-hate mail and had been forced to sell up their business and move away.

Zahid was also sentenced to one year in prison for an assault on Jamie Wallace and to four years for attempting to defeat the ends of justice by setting fire to the car used in the abduction. Lord Philip ordered that the sentences should run concurrently with the life sentence, which he backdated to 5 April.

As the sentence was handed down, members of Kriss’s family could be heard sobbing in the public benches.

Another man, Zahid Mohammed, 20, who was earlier cleared of murder after the Crown accepted his not-guilty plea, was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for assaulting and abducting Kriss and for an attack on Jamie Wallace.

Lord Philip told Mohammed that his sentence would have been longer had he not entered an early guilty plea. Mohammed was also given a five-year supervision order, to begin once his custodial sentence has been completed.

His solicitor had earlier told the court that his client was "on the fringes" of the group and that he was a person who was "easily influenced". He also added that Mohammed’s family had similarly been receiving threats and had now moved away from Scotland.

Following his murder, Kriss was formally identified by his mother, a single parent who has four other children - three daughters and a son, aged four to 17. After his body was found, more than 60 officers took part in the murder hunt, facing public pressure as intense as that following the killing of Stephen Lawrence in London in 1993, and the 1988 death of Surjit Chhokar in Wishaw, Lanarkshire.

At the time, as racial tension increased, Muslim community leaders, including Mohammed Sarwar, MP, and Bashir Maan, a former councillor, stepped in to issue reassurances, as did police, Christian leaders and Gordon Jackson, the local MSP.

A visit to Pollokshields by Nick Griffin, the British National Party leader, caused further consternation.

According to the latest statistics from Audit Scotland, racist incidents in Scotland have surged by 40 per cent over the past three years.

A report into the performance of the country's police forces found that the number of racially motivated incidents recorded by officers in Scotland was 3,787 in the past year, compared with 2,705 in 2001.