Evening Times (Glasgow),
A CALLOUS thug who helped in the abduction and slaughter of school- boy Kriss Donald has been found guilty of Scotland’s first race murder.
A jury at the High Court in Glasgow unanimously convicted shopkeeper Daanish Zahid, 20.
The killing was a revenge attack stemming from an incident the night before when a person, who can only be referred to as X for legal reasons, was attacked with a bottle in a Glasgow night spot.
The attacker, a white youth, belonged to a group called the McCulloch Street Team.
Swearing revenge and threatening to “cut up the culprit and take out the person’s eyes”, X amassed a five-strong gang of armed helpers, including Zahid, to prowl the streets in a stolen Mercedes looking for his attacker.
Innocent Kriss, 15, was last seen alive as he was bundled into the Merc near his home in McCulloch Street, Pollokshields.
He had been heading with his pal, Jamie Wallace, 20, to play computer games. He was targeted for no other reason than he was white and lived in the area.
The next day Kriss’ body, naked save for the charred remains of his underpants, a sock, and a trainer, was found on the Clyde Walkway in Parkhead, Glasgow.
In a crime which shocked all Scotland, he was stabbed and set alight with petrol while still alive.
During the trial the court heard Zahid claim that he did not brutally plunge the knife 13 times into defenceless Kriss’ stomach, back and arm. Nor did he set him on fire.
In court, Zahid, 20, admitted staying with Kriss during a 200-mile terror journey, buying the petrol used to torch him, and disposing of weapons.
He said that as Kriss was being horrifically murdered, he sat in the car, watched — and didn’t do anything to help the stricken boy.
But yesterday a jury found Zahid guilty of Kriss’ racially-aggravated abduction and murder.
A member of the victim’s family whispered “Yes” as the verdict was read out.
Zahid was also found guilty of racially-aggravated assault on Kriss’ pal and attempting to defeat justice by torching the abduction car.
The judge, Lord Philip, told Zahid the price for his participation would be a life sentence.
Because Zahid, of Shields Road, Pollokshields, Glasgow, is a first offender, Lord Philip, told the jury he was obliged to call for reports before sentencing him 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.
Mohammed was also originally charged with abducting and murdering Kriss, but on the first day of the trial, prosecutor Mark Stewart accepted he was not guilty of murder because he left the car hours before Kriss was killed.
Mohammed, however, admitted abducting Kriss and attempting to defeat justice by asking a friend for an alibi.
He then went into the witness box to give evidence for the prosecution and told 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 curfew began.
Lord Philip called for reports on Mohammed who will be sentenced along with Zahid at the High Court in Edinburgh on December 16.
The judge told the jurors it had been a “distressing, harrowing, and demanding” case for them, and said they wouldn’t have to sit on a jury again for 10 years.
Zahid, who ran his family newsagents business in East Kilbride, had denied while acting along with others, abducting Kriss in Kenmure Street, Pollokshields, Glasgow, on March 15 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 Glasgow’s east end.
The Crown claimed that the abduction and murder was racially aggravated.
Zahid lodged a special defence incriminating X and another person who cannot be legally identified.
During eight days of harrowing evidence the jury heard that Zahid, Mohammed, X and the two others, set out to find the youth who had attacked X the night before in Victoria’s night club in Glasgow.
When Kriss and his pal, Jamie, were spotted, X said: “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 distract the attackers from his friend, Kriss was punched and kicked and bundled into the Merc.
He was heard to plead with his captors: “Why me. I’m only 15.”
The schoolboy was then taken to Strathclyde Park in Motherwell where Mohammed got out and returned to Glasgow by taxi.
During the journey. Kriss, face down in the well of the rear seat, listened in terror as X phoned friends to ask for a flat where he was to be tortured for information.
But when nobody was willing to help, X ordered the Merc to be driven back to Glasgow. On the way, they stopped at a filling station and Zahid was ordered to fill a canister of petrol which he put in the boot.
Terrified Kriss was then driven to a deserted and dark walkway on the banks of the Clyde.
The court heard that for a minute Kriss thought he might survive the ordeal when X told him: “You’re all right. It’s your friends I’m after.”
Zahid told the court X ordered the youngster out and followed him with two others to the rear of the car.
He claimed 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.
The prosecution said Zahid must have seen the slaughter because bloodspots on the bonnet and wing of the car proved Kriss had been stabbed at the front of the vehicle.
Kriss was held down while he was stabbed. He was then laid on a pile of newly-felled logs, doused with petrol, and set on fire, before his attackers drove away.
A horrified jury heard how the youngster, with blood rapidly draining from the severing of three major arteries, rose from the logs in flames and crawled towards the river, leaving a trail of burnt clothing and scorched grass.
Kriss never reached the water. He collapsed in a rain-filled depression, rolling in agony in the mud to try to douse the flames, before succumbing to his terrible internal injuries and burns.
The crime which was to shock all Scotland was discovered the next morning by a car salesman cycling to work.
At first thought he was seeing a dead animal on the track.
In the meantime, a drug dealer who supplied X and the gang with cannabis, was 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 his car.
The Merc was then torched in nearby Granby Lane.
During his evidence, Zahid spoke weasel words to Kriss’ mum, Angela, and his sister, Samantha, who had sat feet away from him throughout the trial.
He said that he prayed for Kriss and his family every day, and he apologised for doing nothing to help him.
Zahid claimed he went along with the episode because he was terrified of X, and of being “done in”.
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 anticipated.
But Mr Stewart told him he was guilty because he had participated at “every gruesome stage” of Kriss’ ordeal, and had failed to take advantage of endless opportunities to get away.
After the verdict, when asked about continuing police inquiries, detective superintendent Elliot McKenzie said: “The job is only half done as far as we are concerned.
“The Crown and the police will not rest until those others have been brought to justice.”