Italian court convicts man over kidnap of model

Lester Mason
June 12, 2018

An Italian court has convicted a Polish man of kidnapping a 20-year-old British model for ransom in a case that raised the spectre of young women being auctioned off online on encrypted websites.

There she was held for six days before Herba released her at the British consulate in Milan.

Defendant Herba, 30, had claimed Ayling agreed to the scheme to boost her career. A verdict could come later in the day.

She was taken to a remote mountain village where she was kept for nearly a week before Herba drove her back to Milan and released her near the British consulate.

She denied suggestions that the kidnapping was a hoax after it was reported she had gone on a shopping trip with her alleged captor, Lukasz Pawel Herba. She said Herba showed her photos of other girls who were reportedly being sold over the deep web. In his initial statement to police, he said he did so out of sympathy for her role as a mother.

Adrian Sington, who represents Ms Ayling at talent management agency Kruger Cowne, said: "This has been an incredible burden on her shoulders for the a year ago in the face of media criticism of her motivation, and this is vindication - her story is true".

Investigators, who described Herba as a "mythomaniac adventurer", said that he had tried to extort money from Ayling, asking her manager and family for 300,000 euros ($354,000) before eventually releasing her.

The court sentenced Lukasz Herba to 16 years and nine months in prison - a month longer than prosecutors requested.

Herba maintained his innocence throughout the trial, saying he was never violent with Ms Ayling.

"It was evident that she needed help, because she was without money, I had become her friend and I was in love with her", Herba said, "I did everything to help her, all the worldwide scandal that resulted from it was only used to make her famous".

"And it means now she can get on with her life", Sington said.

And he went on to say Chloe "has quit modeling", explaining, "she has lost any faith and any trust in the industry after her ordeal".

"It's hard if you're being painted in the press as a liar and now she's able to say, "I know it's a freaky story but it's a true one", Sington told the BBC.

In his closing arguments, fellow prosecutor Paolo Storari pointed to the possibility Ms Ayling could have died during the July 11-17, 2017 kidnapping.

Herba's brother, who also denies being involved, is in the process of being extradited to the United Kingdom on kidnapping charges. He said it was unrealistic that Herba would have done so only to get ransom from a young woman without any means.

During closing arguments, his lawyer, Katia Kolakowska, cited an email she received from a U.S. film producer, who pointed out that Ayling's story closely matches the plot of a movie titled By Any Means that was released about eight weeks before the 2017 kidnapping. According to the Sun, Herba was also ordered to pay £60,000 damages to Chloe for what happened.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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