A drill rapper turned ordinary schoolboys into thugs prepared to torture and kidnap in weeks, police said today.
Isaac Donkoh, 23 — known as Young Dizz — groomed youngsters with free meals in chicken and bagel shops before encouraging them to torture rivals to protect postcode territory.
How police caught Donkoh — who featured on former BBC DJ Tim Westwood’s YouTube channel — will be shown tonight on BBC1. It comes as police warned about gang grooming.
Detectives had been investigating the rapper’s Beckton-based 6th gang for 10 months when they learned that Donkoh and four teenage accomplices had kidnapped a 16-year-old in August last year.
The boy was ambushed in Barking and dragged into a car. He was punched, had two plastic bags put over his head and was forced to strip naked as Donkoh filmed on his phone and threatened to “cut him up”.
Snaresbrook crown court heard he was tortured for two hours and forced to beg his parents for £1,500. Donkoh, the self-styled “Prince of the 6th” in his E6 postcode, boasted in a music video: “Like how many times have I cheffed [stabbed] him? How’s he still alive, it don’t make sense? It’s kidnap squad at your door. It’s a kidnap, get on the floor.”
Detective Chief Inspector Jim McKee said Donkoh’s syndicate recruited those aged 14 and above “to commit serious violence” then used drill music to espouse crime.
He said that drill music “translates into real violence. It’s not art, it’s espousing and promoting real violence”. Gang members rose up the 6th‘s hierarchy by ripping off drug dealers and meting out violence to senior rivals.
The Met today warned parents to look out for the signs of gang grooming. Detective Sergeant Joe McClenaghan said: “If you watch Donkoh’s videos, he paraded himself as the big man who was in charge. You would see young men flocking around him like a film star.
“He was clever — he would take them for dinner at chicken and bagel shops and treat them if they were bringing money into the gang. He would take them to sit-down restaurants that typically their parents couldn’t afford.
“Isaac had access to a lot of money and could offer the here and now to entice and trap them until they paid him back. Donkoh was able to move them from being young men attending school, football clubs, doing what normal kids do, to very quickly being willing to commit the type of crime they did.” Donkoh admitted conspiracy to kidnap, false imprisonment, blackmail, causing grievous bodily harm and perverting the course of justice in April.
He was jailed for 12-and-a-half years. Four teenage co-defendants were sentenced to up to three-and-a-half years each. Westwood has said he does not “condone or encourage violence” and “does not support or promote violent drill music on TimWestwoodTV”.
The Met: Policing London is on BBC 1 today at 9pm