'Boy snatched off street, set alight and murdered for being white'
JOHN ROBERTSON LAW CORRESPONDENT
MURDERED schoolboy Kriss Donald pleaded: "I'm only 15. What did I do?" as he was beaten up and dragged into the back of a car by his abductors, a court heard yesterday.
He was forced face down into the back of a silver Mercedes, threatened with a knife and told there was a gun in the car as he was driven off after being snatched from the street "because he was white".
The High Court in Edinburgh yesterday heard that Kriss was attacked and taken from a street in Pollokshields, Glasgow, because one of the men accused of his murder, Imran Shahid, 29, was angry and sought revenge after claiming he had been attacked with a glass bottle outside a nightclub the night before.
It is alleged that Kriss was later set on fire and murdered. In the days following the discovery of his body, friends and family created an impromptu shrine, featuring photographs and football colours. A witness told the court that one of the gang had said: "He took it quietly."
The witness, Zahid Mohammed, 22, was originally accused of taking part in the murder. He pleaded guilty at the High Court in Glasgow in November 2004 to assault to injury on Kriss and attempting to pervert the course of justice. He was given a five-year jail term and was released on licence on Wednesday after applying for parole, the jurors were told.
The jury also heard that he gave evidence again in November 2004 at the same court in the trial of his co-accused, Daanish Zahid, who is named as an alleged accomplice in the current trial.
Imran Shahid, Mohammed Faisal Mushtaq, 27, and Zeeshan Shahid, 29, deny racially aggravated murder.
All three are on trial in Edinburgh, accused of abducting and killing Kriss by striking him with a knife or knives, then setting him on fire on 15 March, 2004.
Mohammed said that in March 2004 he was subject to a tagging order for motoring offences and possession of a knife. On Monday, 15 March, he went to Mushtaq's home in Pollokshields. The Shahid brothers were there, and Zahid joined them later. Mohammed described Imran Shahid, known as "Baldy", as quite angry and added: "He said he got attacked with a glass bottle the night before, outside a nightclub … [by] the boys from McCulloch Street [Pollokshields]."
The witness said the "McCulloch Street boys" were white and Imran Shahid had vowed that he was going to take revenge and would "chop them up, take their eyes out, things like that".
It was planned that the group would go out in a car and look in McCulloch Street for "them … anybody".
Mohammed said Imran Shahid asked for weapons and Mushtaq took a hammer and a screwdriver from a tool box and they were put in a blue carrier bag. Mohammed gave Imran Shahid a knife and helped him to dye his blond hair back to its natural dark colour.
They all got into a silver Mercedes car and drove to McCulloch Street where they saw two boys, now known to be Kriss Donald and a friend, Jamie Wallace, turning into Kenmure Street.
Imran Shahid said to let him out and he began fighting with the boys, especially Kriss. Mohammed agreed with a description of Imran Shahid's build as "massive" and said Kriss was "quite small" and could not fight back. Imran Shahid pushed Kriss into the car while Mushtaq pulled him in from the other side.
The advocate-depute, Mark Stewart, QC, asked how successful Kriss was in resisting and Mohammed replied: "Very little."
Mohammed said he had never met him before the incident. He agreed that nothing would have happened if Kriss and his friend had been Chinese, African-American or Asian. He said they were targeted because they were white.
Mr Stewart asked if Kriss had said anything. Mohammed answered: "Yes, he said, 'I'm only 15. What did I do?' or something like that."
Kriss was "scrunched down" in the footwell at the rear of the car, facing the floor. He was "scared".
Mohammed said that both he and Imran Shahid punched Kriss on the back and Imran Shahid had said: "I'm Baldy. Nobody f***s with me."
Also, Imran Shahid pressed the point of a knife against Kriss's back, and asked if he could feel it. The car went to a flat in the Parkhead area, but no-one was at home. A number of phone calls were made to try to find "a place or a park or something … to batter Kriss". Imran Shahid threatened Kriss to force him to name the people from were the previous night. Kriss appeared to know what he was talking about and gave a few names.
Mohammed said he was dropped off at Strathclyde Park because he had to be home in time for his tagging curfew.
Next day, he went to Mushtaq's flat and spoke to Zeeshan Shahid, known as Crazy. "I asked what had happened. Crazy said, 'He took it quietly'." Mr Stewart ended by asking Mohammed: "Is the evidence you have given here today, sworn on the holy Koran, the truth?" Mohammed replied: "Yes."
David Burns, QC, for Imran Shahid, said Mohammed had done a deal with the prosecution by which he received a five-year sentence and agreed to give evidence against others. "You knew you would get life imprisonment if convicted of murder, and much less if you pleaded to something less?" asked Mr Burns.
Mohammed said: "Yes."
Donald Findlay, QC, for Mushtaq, accused the witness of being "a liar, pure and simple" and someone who was "cunning and conniving". The witness denied it.
Mr Findlay continued: "Co-incidentally, you were released from prison [in England] the day before you give evidence and got a lift here from the police."
He said on Mohammed's account, he might have supplied the weapon which killed Kriss. "Up to your neck in it is an understatement," suggested Mr Findlay.
Mohammed agreed with Norman Ritchie, QC, for Zeeshan Shahid, that he had been granted parole at the first time of asking and a police agreement that offered him a new home and a new identity when the trial ends.
No mention as to whether the suspects are being tried for a hate crime or not.