Abducted, stabbed and set on fire for being white

DAANISH Zahid, an Asian shopkeeper who helped in the abduction and murder of schoolboy Kriss Donald, was found guilty yesterday of Scotland’s first race murder where the victim was white.

Kriss was the victim of a revenge attack stemming from an incident the night before when a person - X, whose name, gender and colour cannot be revealed for legal reasons - was attacked with a bottle in a Glasgow nightclub.

The attacker, a white youth, belonged to a gang called the McCulloch Street Team.

Swearing revenge and threatening to "cut up the culprit and take his eyes out", X, the High Court in Glasgow heard, got together a five-strong armed gang, including Zahid, to prowl the streets in a stolen Mercedes looking for him, or someone who knew his identity.

Kriss Donald, 15, was last seen alive as he was bundled into the Mercedes near his home in McCulloch Street, Pollokshields.

He had been heading out with his pal, Jamie Wallace, 20, to play computer games, and fitted X’s bill for no other reason than he was white and lived in McCulloch Street.

The next day Kriss’s body, naked except for the charred remnants of his underpants, a sock, and a training shoe, was found on the Clyde Walkway at Parkhead, in the east end of Glasgow.

In a crime which shocked the country, he had been beaten, stabbed repeatedly and set alight with petrol while still alive.

During the trial, the court heard it was not Zahid who plunged the knife 13 times into the defenceless teenager’s stomach, back and arm. Nor was he the person who set him on fire.

His role had been to help abduct Kriss, stay with him during a 200-mile drive, buy the petrol used to set him on fire, and dispose of weapons.

As Kriss was being finished off, Zahid, 20, sat in the car, watched - and made no attempt to help the terrified boy.

Yesterday, after the jury found him guilty of Kriss’s murder by a unanimous verdict, the trial judge, Lord Philip, told Zahid that the price for his participation in the crime would be a life sentence. He was also found guilty of the racially aggravated assault on Kriss’s friend, and attempting to defeat justice by burning the abduction car.

Because Zahid, of Shields Road, Pollokshields, Glasgow, is a first offender, Lord Philip, told the jury that he was obliged to call for reports before sentencing him to life and calculating the number of years he should serve before being allowed to apply for parole.

In the dock with Zahid was 20-year-old Zahid Mohammed, also of Shields Road who could also have been facing a life sentence. Mohammed was also charged with abducting and murdering Kriss, but on the first day of the trial, Advocate Depute Mark Stewart, accepted that he was not guilty of murder because he had left the car hours before Kriss was killed.

Mohammed, however, admitted abducting Kriss and attempting to defeat justice by asking a friend for a false alibi.

He entered the witness box to give evidence for the prosecution and told the jury the reason why he left the others. He had been sentenced to wear an electronic tag on his ankle for carrying a knife, and had to be home for 7pm when his evening curfew began.

Lord Philip also called for reports on Mohammed, who will be sentenced along with Zahid at the High Court in Edinburgh on 16 December.

Zahid, who ran his family newsagents business in East Kilbride, had denied, while acting along with others, abducting Kriss in Pollokshields on 15 March this year, driving him to Strathclyde Park, Motherwell, Dundee, and then back to Glasgow, and murdering him at the Clyde Walkway near the Celtic Supporters’ Club in the East End.

The Crown claimed that the abduction and murder was a racially aggravated crime.

Zahid lodged a special defence incriminating X and another person who cannot be legally identified.

During eight days of sometimes harrowing evidence the jury heard that Zahid, Mohammed, X and the two others, set out to find the youth who had carried out the bottle attack the night before in Victoria’s nightclub in Glasgow.

When Kriss and his friend, Jamie, were spotted, X told the others, "They’ll do", and ordered the car to be stopped. X and the others, including Zahid and Mohammed, jumped out and, as Jamie tried to defend himself and at the same time distract the attackers from his friend, Kriss was punched and kicked and bundled into the car. He was heard to plead with his captors: "Why me. I’m only 15."

The schoolboy was driven to Strathclyde Park where Zahid Mohammed got out and returned to Glasgow by taxi because of his curfew.

During the journey, Kriss, face down in the well of the rear seat, would have been in terror as X phoned friends to ask them for a flat where he was to be tortured for information.

But when no-one was willing to help, X ordered the Mercedes to be driven back to Glasgow. En route they stopped at a filling station and Zahid was ordered to fill a canister of petrol.

Kriss was then driven to a deserted walkway on the banks of the Clyde.

Zahid said that X ordered the youngster out and followed him with two others to the rear of the car. He insisted that he remained in the front passenger seat and told how he heard screams and then saw a fireball. When X and one of the others returned their hands and clothes were covered with blood.

However, Mr Stewart, prosecuting, maintained that Zahid must have seen the killing because bloodspots on the bonnet and wing of the car proved Kriss had been stabbed at the front of the car.

The gang then laid him out on a pile of logs, doused him with petrol, and set him on fire before racing away in the car.

The jury heard how the youngster, with his blood draining from three severed arteries, rose in flames to stagger or crawl down towards the river leaving a trail of burned clothing and scorched grass.

He never reached the river. He collapsed in a rain-filled ditch, rolling in the mud to try to douse the flames, eventually succumbing to his terrible internal injuries and burns.

In the meantime, a drug dealer who supplied X and the gang with cannabis, had been ordered to buy petrol. Zahid met him at a prearranged spot in the West End of Glasgow, took the can of petrol from him and left a bag containing a knife and a hammer in the back seat of the car. The Mercedes was set alight in Granby Lane.

During his evidence, Zahid told Kriss’s mother, Mrs Angela Donald and his sister, Samantha, he prayed for Kriss and his family every day, and apologised for doing nothing to help him.

Zahid claimed he went along with events because he was terrified of being "done in" by X.

He also claimed that the murder had been committed on the spur of the moment by X, described by defence counsel Ian Duguid QC as a "psychopathic lunatic" and that it could not have been foreseen.

But Mr Stewart told him he was guilty because he had participated at "every gruesome stage" of Kriss’s ordeal and failed to take advantage of opportunities to get away and distance himself from the crime.

Detective Chief Superintendent Elliot McKenzie said: "The job is only half-done. The Crown and the police will not rest until those others have been brought to justice."