Imran Shahid, Zeeshan Shahid (Baldy and Crazy) and Faisal Mushtaq went down for a long time yesterday for the sadistic murder of Kriss Donald.
I've always had a sick feeling in my stomach and my heart when hearing the details of his tortuous death. Even sitting in TV studios before interviews yesterday, tears came to my eyes hearing the reporters on the VT again describing how Kriss, who'd already been stabbed 13 times, was writhing around on the grass trying to put out the fire all over his body that the gangsters had lit by dousing petrol all over him.
You have to salute his mother Angela for showing maximum dignity during this whole affair. Even in the aftermath of his death, when it would have been so easy for her to lash out, she told the BNP to get the hell out of Pollokshields when they came looking for revenge.
This was a racially aggravated crime, but this was no simple case of racial supremacists. They did pick Kriss out because he was white, in a grotesque form of collective punishment, but their reign of terror in Pollokshields had victims of all colours.
Legend surrounds the antics of Baldy and Crazy stretching back over a decade. On one occasion they are said to have chopped off the thumbs of a guy who went out with their sister. Many, many people were beaten to pulps. They operated with a mafia style elusiveness when it came to the arm of the law. The sadism meted out to Kriss did not come out of the blue. Their crimes had been building up to this for a long time. There was almost a sad inevitability about it.
They went about in a culture of impunity for ages. Despite this, Baldy had been sentenced to two-and-a-half-years in Feb 2003 for another attack. But only a year later he butchered Kriss. Serious questions need to be asked of the criminal justice system.
I do believe that the brothers were a one-off. I've heard senior Asians blaming themselves for the tragedy. I'm not sure what they or we could have done. All Asians can't take ownership of Baldy and Crazy just because they share the same skin colour. This country has seen disgusting murders take place before. We don't even analyse the murderers families, let alone distant relatives, so why should all Asians take the rap for Kriss's death?
People have asked questions about the gang-culture in Pollokshields. We need to separate out the unique evil that the brothers and their accomplices represented. Sure Pollokshields has its share of crime, as other towns with similar social conditions have. It doesn't mean there will be another Kriss Donald however.
There have been indirect claims from police that they are scared to lift Asian troublemakers in Pollokshields lest the racist card be played. I find this hard to believe. For one, as I even wrote about yesterday, police are not afraid to approach "Asian looking" people, and indeed the government has created a climate where this is acceptable.
Secondly, I would be flabbergasted if it's the case that the police have evidence of criminality but do not act because someone is Asian - if that's what they're saying, this needs to be investigated, and I for one simply do not believe it. The excuse of fearing a political correctness backlash only washes if police are suggesting they want to go on random fishing expeditions. This simply will not do. I've seen anti-social behaviour myself in Pollokshields. I've called the police when I've seen it. There are CCTV cameras up. Asians first and foremost expect them to act.