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Blackburn boxing champion who intimidated sex-case trial witness jailed
A BOXING champion has been jailed for intimidating a witness in a child sex abuse case.
Shakeeb Ali, 20, subjected his teenage victim to threats of violence and intimidation after ‘engineering’ several meetings.
The Blackburn boxer is the current European Boxing Federation British lightweight champion.
Burnley Crown Court heard that on one occasion Ali, who was due to fight his first professional bout in October, texted the youth and said: "I feel like ripping your head off.”
The court was told that a relative of Ali's had been accused of orally raping a girl prompting him to act.
During a weeks-long campaign, Ali repeatedly put the teenager under pressure to go into the police station to change his evidence and say the girl had lied.
The teenager was also ‘cajoled’ into trying to persuade the girl to withdraw her complaint and was warned ‘somebody would get hurt’ if he didn't do as he was told.
The court heard Ali, who has won 42 of his 54 matches, also sent threatening texts to the teenager.
Ali, said to be regarded by his boxing coach and manager as a ‘national asset’, was due to defend his title for the second time on September 23.
Now instead of being in the ring the defendant, of Whitehead Street, Blackburn, has been sent to a young offenders' institution for 12 months.
He admitted conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
Following the case Ali’s former coach Yaqoob Hussain MBE, who is well respected in boxing circles, said: “I am really sad to hear Shakeeb has been sent to prison but he has obviously done something wrong.
“We try and instil discipline into our boxers here and when Shakeeb was here he was very disciplined and well behaved. It sounds like he has gotten in with the wrong crowd.”
The Audley ABC's head coach and founder, added: “Is a real shame as he has done very well with his boxing and was about to turn professional.”
Jason Curtis, Ali’s coach, said: “We are absolutely devastated Shakeeb has been sent to prison. We just didn’t expect it.
“We were led to believe he would get a community sentence so were not prepared for him to go inside at all. It was all over helping a family member.
“We are hoping he will be able to continue training while he is in prison. He is only 20-years-old and he is super fit so it shouldn’t take him too long to get back up to physical peak when he is released.
“It is hard to say whether this will have a negative impact on his career. He did not inflict any violence he just got caught up. It is my job to try and keep him motivated and I am hoping to visit him in the next few days.
“It is a real shame Shakeeb was about to have his debut professional boxing match on October 7.”
The court had been told how in 2010, a relative of the defendant had been arrested in relation to the sex abuse allegations.
Ali "engineered" meetings in which he and others met the teenage witness in houses and cars.
The youth was told if he didn't attend, the defendant would turn up at his work.
Nicholas Courtney, prosecuting, said on January 21, the victim was taken to the police station to change his statement.
The prosecutor said: "He did go into the police station, but simply gave a false name and left without telling the police what the others wanted him to say. He received text messages from the defendant, asking if the police had taken a statement off him."
The teenager received more messages on January 24 and 25, but didn't respond. The defendant then texted him accusing him of taking the mickey, demanded a reply and told him: "I feel like ripping your head off."
Ahmed Nadim, for Ali, said the issuing of threats and instructions had been done by others. He had been exploited and acted out of a misguided sense of loyalty.
Mr Nadim, who had handed the judge testimonials on the defendant's behalf, said: "The consistent and constant theme of all the documents is that Shakeeb Ali is a polite,courteous and deferential young man.
“The imposition of an immediate custodial sentence would do untold damage, both to his past and to his future and such an outcome would be disproportionate to the culpability of this young man."
Sentencing, Judge Simon Newell said Ali's relative had been charged with a number of very serious offences of sexual assault and misbehaviour.
He said: "It's well known that people who engage in that sort of activity and engage with others, are to be treated by the courts in a way that will deter them and others from interfering in the criminal justice system."