Now tranquil, the place where horror visited

IT IS an ordinary park bench, on a quiet footpath that runs by the River Clyde. Only a small memorial plaque hints at the horror which took place - one the words, engraved in black, try to conceal.

Beside a picture of a young, dark-haired and smiling boy, read the words: "In loving memory of Kriss. Born 2-7-88. Died 15-3-04."

A stranger stopping to rest would understand that this 15-year-old "beautiful boy" had been tragically taken from friends and family.

What is left unsaid is that Kriss Donald died after being forced to pass through a hell of fear and fire.

For this ordinary park bench is only a few yards from the scene of Scotland's most horrific race murder, where three Asian men, Imran Shahid, his brother Zeeshan Shahid and Mohammed Faisal Mushtaq, stabbed him repeatedly, doused him in petrol and burned him alive.

FOR Kriss Donald, what should have been a stolen day off school, spent getting to grips with a friend's new computer game, would instead be spent in confusion, fear, pain and, finally, death.

Kriss, who weighed nine stone and was 5ft 7in tall, was described by staff at the local youth club as a quiet boy, friendly, but who edged out of the way if trouble or rowdy behaviour broke out.

On Monday, 15 March, 2004, at 3:10pm, Kriss walked out of his home in McCulloch Street, Glasgow, around the corner to Kenmure Street, where he met up with Jamie Wallace, 22, a friend with whom he planned to spend the afternoon road-testing a new X-Box game. The two strolled and shared a joint in the afternoon twilight, in what would be Kriss's last contented moment.

Engrossed in conversation, they barely noticed the silver Mercedes that drove past, then did a swift U-turn, but they could not miss the huge figure, an Asian man, with a massive 50in chest, now striding towards them. It was Jamie Wallace who spotted him first. It was Baldy.

IMRAN "Baldy" Shahid, so named for his close-cropped hair, dyed a distinctive blond, was a violent drug dealer and scourge of the local community. A man with an explosive temper and an appetite for revenge, he was out to right, in his twisted mind, a perceived wrong. The previous evening, Shahid and his friends were in the city centre on a night out, when they were involved in an altercation with a group of white lads, also from Pollokshields. A bottle, it was alleged, had been thrown at Shahid, who gave chase, but the young men, including Barry O'Neill, 19, James Farren, 20, and James Wishart, 21, ran off.

The next day Shahid convened a council of revenge in Herriot Street, at the home of Mohammed Faisal Mushtaq, a hardened criminal with convictions for assault, drugs offences and dealing in stolen goods.

He began by calling friends in an attempt to discover the identity of the "McCulloch Street boys" who threw the bottle. Soon he was joined by his brother, Zeeshan Shahid, nicknamed "Crazy", Zahid Mohammed and Daanish Zahid.

Shahid demanded that "tools" be found. Mushtaq presented him with a hammer and a screwdriver, while Zahid Mohammed handed over a sharpened knife. The implements were placed in a blue plastic bag. Shahid announced to the group that when he found the culprits he would "chop them up, take their eyes out". Like girls preparing for a night out, Zahid Mohammed then helped Shahid dye his hair back to its natural colour.

At 2:42pm, the group called a taxi and four of them travelled to Glasgow's West End to collect a stolen Mercedes. By 3:04 the group were back in the area and called Mushtaq to tell him to meet them outside with the blue plastic bag.

When Shahid and his crew spotted the two boys, he announced: "I'm doing them." He then got out the car and told the rest to drive on, but then to double back.

THE assault and abduction were swift but confused. At first Shahid attacked Jamie Wallace but the older lad managed to break free. Shahid turned his attentions to Kriss, dragging him on to the road, just as his gang mates and the Mercedes pulled up.

The men leapt out and dragged Kriss into the back seat. In terror, he grabbed hold of the roof with both hands while his feet anchored themselves against the door frame, but he was kneed in the back and dragged in head first.

Kriss Donald's cry was pitiful: "I'm only 15, I'm only 15. What did I do?" Yet these were pitiless men. During the attack they had shouted: "white bastards", and the last words Jamie Wallace remembers were: "Do you know what pain is? You're next."

A minute or so after the assault began, it was over. The Mercedes roared off with "Crazy" Shahid at the wheel and his brother screaming: "Drive! Drive!" Jamie Wallace was left to cry on the pavement and then seek help. His grandmother, who had witnessed the abduction from the family's top-floor flat, was already running down the stairs. Another neighbour went to inform Angela Donald, Kriss's mother, whose heart was broken by the words: "I'm sorry, I have just seen your boy getting kidnapped."

By the time the first call was made to Strathclyde Police at 3:28pm, Kriss Donald was in a state of terror, crushed face-down in the back of the car. He was repeatedly punched by Shahid, who demanded the names of the culprits and screamed at him: "I'm Baldy. Nobody f***s with me."

He pressed the point of a knife into the boy's back and asked if he could feel it. The blue bag was produced and Shahid pretended it contained a "shooter", but what lay ahead for Kriss Donald was worse than a bullet in the brain, much worse.

The gang sought a safe house in which to torture Kriss in comfort , but despite repeated phone calls to contacts who were told that Shahid "had a situation to sort out", no accommodation was forthcoming. They drove to Strathclyde Park, Motherwell, where Zahid "Ziggy" Mohammed was dropped off. He was on a tag and had to be home before a 6pm curfew.

A CONTACT is believed to have suggested a safe house in Dundee, where the group headed next, but again they failed to find an adequate space. One contact suggested, as a quiet spot, the Clyde walkway, behind the Celtic supporters' club on London Road. It was there they travelled next, stopping only to collect a canister of petrol from a service station.

The horror of Kriss Donald's murder is compounded by the hours of terror that preceded it, yet the event itself was to raise the bar on criminal barbarity. Between 7:19pm and 7:39pm, he was taken from the car by the four men. Who did what is not known. What is known is that the schoolboy was stabbed, in the front and in the back, a total of 13 times. He then slumped on a felled tree trunk. Shahid and his crew doused him with petrol, lit a match and set him on fire.

The will to live was strong enough in Kriss Donald that he struggled up, staggered away from the tree trunk and tried to reach the grass slope that led to the walkway path.

He died rolling in a muddy hollow, in a futile attempt to extinguish the flames.