Murder of Kriss Donald

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Coordinates: 55°50′32″N 4°11′57″W / 55.842099°N 4.199232°W / 55.842099; -4.199232

Kriss Donald
Born (1988-07-02)2 July 1988
Died 15 March 2004(2004-03-15) (aged 15)
near to Lilybank, Glasgow, Scotland, UK
Cause of death Stabbing, exsanguination[1]
Resting place Linn Cemetery, Glasgow, Scotland, UK
55°47′55″N 4°15′31″W / 55.798583°N 4.258634°W / 55.798583; -4.258634
Residence Pollokshields, Glasgow, Scotland, UK
Nationality Scottish
Occupation Student
Known for Victim of racist murder
Height 5 ft 7 in (170 cm)
Weight 8.5 st (119 lb; 54 kg)[2]
Parent(s) Angela Donald

Kriss Donald (2 July 1988 – 15 March 2004) was a 15-year-old Scottish white male who was kidnapped and murdered in Glasgow in 2004 by a gang of men of Pakistani origin,[1] some of whom fled to Pakistan after the crime.[3][4][5][6] Daanish Zahid, Imran Shahid, Zeeshan Shahid and Mohammed Faisal Mustaq were later found guilty of racially motivated murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.[3][4] A fifth participant in the crime was convicted of racially motivated violence and jailed for five years.[citation needed]

The case, which featured the first-ever conviction for racially motivated murder in Scotland, is cited in two newspaper articles as an example of the lack of attention the media and society give to white sufferers of racist attacks compared to that given to ethnic minorities.[7][8] It is also suggested the crime demonstrates how society has been forced to redefine racism so as to no longer exclude white victims.[9]

Kidnapping and murder[edit]

On 15 March 2004, Donald was abducted from Kenmure Street by five men associated with a local British Pakistani gang led by Imran Shahid. The kidnapping was ostensibly revenge for an attack on Shahid at a nightclub in Glasgow city centre the night before by a local white gang, and Donald was chosen as an example of a "white boy from the McCulloch Street area" despite having no involvement in the nightclub attack or in any gang activity.[1][10][11]

Donald was taken on a 200-mile journey to Dundee and back while his kidnappers made phone calls looking for a house to take him to. Having no success at this, they returned to Glasgow and took him to the Clyde Walkway, near Celtic Football Club's training ground.[1][11] There, they held his arms (ascertained due to an absence of defensive wounds) and stabbed him multiple times. He sustained internal injuries to three arteries, one of his lungs, his liver and a kidney. He was doused in petrol and set on fire as he bled to death.[1][10][12]

The issue of the killing quickly became politicised because of the racial element. After the murder there were reportedly 'racial tensions' in the area sufficient to lead to police intervention.[4]

Arrests and first trials[edit]

Initially, two men were arrested in connection with the crime. One man, Daanish Zahid, was found guilty of Kriss Donald's murder on 18 November 2004 and is the first person to be convicted of racially motivated murder in Scotland.[13] Another man, Zahid Mohammed, admitted involvement in the abduction of Donald and lying to police during their investigation and was jailed for five years. He was released after serving half of his sentence and returned to court to give evidence against three subsequent defendants.[citation needed]

Daanish Zahid
Born (1984-01-29) 29 January 1984 (age 34)[14]
Criminal charge Racially motivated murder, abduction, attempting to defeat the ends of justice
Criminal penalty Life imprisonment (minimum 17 years)
Criminal status In prison
Motive Racism
Conviction(s) Racially motivated murder
Imran Shahid
Born 1976 or 1977
Other names Baldy[16]
Criminal charge Racially motivated murder, abduction
Criminal penalty Life imprisonment (minimum 25 years)
Criminal status In prison
Motive Racism
Conviction(s) Racially motivated murder, abduction
Zeeshan Shahid
Born 1977 or 1978
Criminal charge Racially motivated murder, abduction,
Criminal penalty Life imprisonment (minimum 23 years)
Criminal status In prison
Motive Racism
Conviction(s) Racially motivated murder, abduction
Mohammed Faisal Mushtaq
Born 1978 or 1979
Criminal charge Racially motivated murder, abduction
Criminal penalty Life imprisonment (minimum 22 years)
Criminal status In prison
Motive Racism
Conviction(s) Racially motivated murder, abduction
Zahid Mohammed
Born (1984-01-01) 1 January 1984 (age 34)[14]
Other names Yusef Harris[17]
Criminal charge Abduction
Criminal penalty 5 years' imprisonment
Criminal status Released from prison
Motive Racism
Conviction(s) Abduction

Special extradition and later trial[edit]

Three suspects were arrested in Pakistan in July 2005 and extradited to the UK in October 2005, following the intervention of Mohammed Sarwar, the MP for Glasgow Central.[11][10]

The Pakistani police had to engage in a "long struggle" to capture two of the escapees. There is no extradition treaty between Pakistan and Britain, but the Pakistani authorities agreed to extradite the suspects.[10][11] There were numerous diplomatic complications around the case, including apparent divergences between government activities and those of ambassadorial officials; government figures were at times alleged to be reluctant to pursue the case for diplomatic reasons.[18]

The three extradited suspects, Imran Shahid, Zeeshan Shahid, and Mohammed Faisal Mushtaq, all in their late twenties, arrived in Scotland on 5 October 2005.[19] They were charged with Donald's murder the following day.[20] Their trial opened on 2 October 2006 in Scotland.[21]

On 8 November 2006, the three men were found guilty of the racially motivated murder of Kriss Donald. All three had denied the charge; however, a jury at the High Court in Edinburgh convicted them of abduction and murder.[15] The judge at the trial, Lord Uist, made a statement summing up the case:

You have all been convicted by the jury of the racially aggravated abduction and murder of Kriss Donald, a wholly innocent 15-year-old boy of slight build. He was selected as your victim only because he was white and walking in a certain part of the Pollokshields area of Glasgow when you sought out a victim. This murder consisted of the premeditated, cold-blooded execution of your victim by stabbing him 13 times and setting him alight with petrol while he was still in life. It truly was an abomination. The savage and barbaric nature of this notorious crime has rightly shocked and appalled the public. Your victim must have been in a state of extreme terror while held by you during a four-hour car journey across Central Scotland and back, and the agony which he must have suffered during the period between being stabbed and set alight and his death is just beyond imagining.

Each of the killers received sentences of life imprisonment, with Imran Shahid given a 25-year minimum term, Zeeshan Shahid a 23-year minimum and Mushtaq receiving a recommended minimum of 22 years.[citation needed]

Controversies surrounding the case[edit]

Lack of media coverage[edit]

The BBC has been criticised by some viewers because the case featured on national news only three times and the first trial was later largely confined to regional Scottish bulletins including the verdict itself. Although admitting that the BBC had "got it wrong", the organisation's Head of Newsgathering, Fran Unsworth, largely rejected the suggestion that Donald's race played a part in the lack of reportage, instead claiming it was mostly a product of "Scottish blindness". In preference to reporting the verdict the organisation found the time to report the opening of a new arts centre in Gateshead in its running order.[22] The BBC again faced criticisms for its failure to cover the second trial in its main bulletins, waiting until day 18 to mention the issue and Peter Horrocks of the BBC apologised for the organisation's further failings.[23]

Peter Fahy, spokesman of race issues for the Association of Chief Police Officers, noted that the media as a whole tended to under-report the racist murders of white people, stating "it was a fact that it was harder to get the media interested where murder victims were young white men".[24]

The British National Party were accused by Scotland's First Minister and Labour Party MSP Jack McConnell among others of seeking to exploit the case for political advantage, and an open letter signed by MSPs, trades unionists, and community leaders, condemned the BNP's plans to stage a visit to Pollokshields. The group did hold a rally in the area, leading to accusations that it was fuelling racial tension.[25]

Police response[edit]

A March 2004 article in The Scotsman newspaper alleged a lack of response by authorities to concerns of rising racial tensions and that Strathclyde Police had felt pressured to abandon Operation Gather, an investigation into Asian gangs in the area, for fear of offending ethnic minorities.[26] In a January 2005 interview with a Scottish newspaper, prominent Pakistani Glaswegian Bashir Maan claimed that "fear and intimidation" had allowed problems with Asian gangs in some parts of the city to go unchecked. The article also quoted a former senior Strathclyde police officer who criticised "a culture of political correctness" which had allowed gang crime to "grow unfettered".[27]

A BBC report suggests that another reason for inaction was lack of evidence, as locals were more prepared to make complaints than to give evidence in court.[10] Some commentators have argued the murder was somewhat mischaracterised in the media, as well as expressing a doubt that significant ethnic tensions exist in Pollokshields, suggesting that "gangland revenge" may have played a part.[28]

Early release of prisoners[edit]

The case drew attention to the issues of prisoners automatically being released from prison early when it emerged that one of the murderers, Shahid, was on early release from a prison sentence at the time of the killing. He had previously been jailed for two-and-a-half years for a road rage attack but only served nine months of his sentence.[29]


Glasgow band Glasvegas wrote the song "Flowers And Football Tops" having been inspired by the tragedy and the likely effect it would have on the victim's parents. The band dedicated their 2008 Philip Hall Radar NME award win to Donald's memory.[30][31][32]

A memorial plaque was installed on a bench beside the River Clyde, near to where he was killed, in memory of Donald.[1] In addition,a memorial plaque was placed on a public fence in Pollokshields close to the spot where he was kidnapped; in July 2018, friends and family gathered at the spot to remember him on what would have been his 30th birthday.[33]


The murder led some people to examine their views of racism and its victims. Mark Easton cited the racist murders of Donald and also Ross Parker as demonstrating how society has been forced to redefine racism and discard the erroneous definition of "prejudice plus power"—a definition which only allowed ethnic minorities to be victims of hate crime.[9] Yasmin Alibhai-Brown also cited the Donald case when highlighting the lack of concern for white victims of racist murders. She drew comparisons with high-profile ethnic minority victims, asking whether Donald's murderers were "less evil than those who killed Stephen Lawrence". Alibhai-Brown came to the conclusion that treating "some victims as more worthy of condemnation than others is unforgivable—and a betrayal of anti-racism itself".[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Now tranquil, the place where horror visited". The Scotsman. 13 November 2006. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  2. ^ Kriss may have been held while knife was plunged into him – The Scotsman
  3. ^ a b "Sikhs blame British policy of 'Asian' tag". The Times Of India. 17 November 2006.
  4. ^ a b c Mcdougall, Dan (24 July 2004). "Justice for Kriss Donald held hostage by the law". The Scotsman. Edinburgh, UK.
  5. ^ The Middle East, abstracts and index – Library Information and Research Service,; accessed 21 September 2017.
  6. ^ "Life for Pakistani men for killing white teenager". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 10 November 2006.
  7. ^ a b Alibhai Brown, Yasmin (26 October 2006). "When the victim is white, does anyone care?". London Evening Standard. London, UK. Retrieved 30 May 2014.
  8. ^ Robertson, Denise (31 October 2006). "Skin colour is irrelevant". The Journal. Newcastle, UK. Retrieved 28 July 2011.
  9. ^ a b Easton, Mark (8 November 2006). "Racism and race crime redefined". BBC News. Retrieved 29 July 2011.
  10. ^ a b c d e "Gangsters, murder and extradition", BBC News; accessed 21 September 2017.
  11. ^ a b c d Three jailed for life for race murder of schoolboy. The Guardian 9 November 2006
  12. ^ "Kriss trial told boy was set on fire as he bled to death". Evening Times. 27 October 2006. Archived from the original on 2 November 2006. Retrieved 10 August 2018.
  13. ^ Calum Macdonald, "Two others convicted THE FIRST TRIAL", The Herald, 9 November 2006.
  14. ^ a b Robertson, Alex (19 November 2004). "Gang 'nobodies' will pay price for their roles". Evening Times.
  15. ^ a b "Trio jailed for Kriss race murder". BBC News. 8 November 2006.
  16. ^ The evil empire,; accessed 21 September 2017.
  17. ^ "Member of Kriss Donald abduction gang changed name to hide past". STV News.
  18. ^ "Ministers block extradition of Kriss Donald murder suspects", The Scotsman, 23 July 2004.
  19. ^ "Glasgow murder suspects fly to UK", BBC News, 5 October 2005.
  20. ^ "Murder suspects appear in court", BBC News, 6 October 2005.
  21. ^ "Schoolboy murder trial under way", BBC News, 2 October 2006.
  22. ^ Presenter: Raymond Snoddy, Interviewee: Fran Unsworth (11 December 2005). "NewsWatch". NewsWatch. London, England. BBC. BBC 1, BBC News Channel.
  23. ^ Presenter: Raymond Snoddy, Interviewee: Peter Horrocks (30 October 2006). "NewsWatch (TV series)". NewsWatch. London, England. BBC. BBC 1, BBC News Channel.
  24. ^ Barnett, Antony (22 October 2006). "Racial murders: nearly half the victims are white". The Guardian. London.
  25. ^ Archived 4 February 2005 at the Wayback Machine.
  26. ^ Dan McDougall, "Murder hunt police drop ‘politically incorrect’ gang crackdown", The Scotsman, 19 March 2004.
  27. ^ ""Row over policing Asian gangs"". Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 8 November 2006. by Imaad Azim in the iWitness
  28. ^ "". Retrieved 24 June 2007.
  29. ^ "Fury over Kriss killer's early release". Daily Mail. London. 9 November 2006.
  30. ^ "Edinburgh's Hogmanay: First footers' stomp", Scotland on Sunday.
  31. ^ "T in the Park preview: Glasvegas", The Scotsman, 4 June 2008.
  32. ^ "The extended NME interview". New Musical Express. London: IPC Media. 21 June 2008.
  33. ^ "Kriss Donald: Poignant tributes left on what would have been his 30th birthday". Evening Times. 3 July 2018. Retrieved 6 July 2018.

External links[edit]