Published: Tue, June 12, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Italian court convicts man over kidnap of model

Italian court convicts man over kidnap of model

An Italian court on Monday found a Polish man guilty of kidnapping British model Chloe Ayling in July 2017.

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

British model Chloe Ayling, who made headlines around the world previous year, claimed to have been drugged and kidnapped after being lured to Milan on the false promise of attending a fashion shoot.

One officer giving evidence to the trial described how the model suffered "physical violence including being drugged, handcuffed and brutally transported inside a suitcase".

Lawyers acting for Herba had suggested the kidnap was a stunt dreamed up to boost Ms Ayling's career.

The 30-year-old threatened to auction her on the internet while trying to extort £230,000 from her agent Phil Green.

Lukasz Herba sits beside his lawyer in court.

He said he was paid £500,000, found out the Romanians meant to kidnap her, and backed out of the plan.

She said she had been told she would be auctioned online since she was not able to come up with 300,000 euros (US$355,000) in ransom.

"I never hurt the girl".

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Prosecutors said Herba had met Ayling in England at least once before and was "obsessed" with her, and pretended to be from a criminal group called Black Death as part of a convoluted scheme to win her affections. "If she felt forced verbally in any way, I am very sorry".

During the hearing the accused said he had elaborated the scheme with the young mother because he was in love with her. "It's hard if you're being painted in the press as a liar and now she's able to be able to say, 'I know it's a weird story but it's a true one'".

Lucasz Herba, from Poland, was sentenced at a court in Milan to 16 years and nine months in prison.

Ms Ayling said she feared for her life during her six-day ordeal and that she was told she would be killed if she did not co-operate.

Ms Ayling told investigators that she did not try to escape, even when she accompanied Herba into a shop to buy shoes, because she was terrified, believing his threats that he was part of a bigger criminal gang that had eyes on her constantly.

"She has no money so I said I would help her".

The Italian court is also seeking extradition for Herba's brother Michal over the kidnapping.

During closing arguments, his lawyer, Katia Kolakowska, cited an email she received from a United States 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. He said it was unrealistic that Herba would have done so only to get ransom from a young woman without any means. According to the Sun, Herba was also ordered to pay £60,000 damages to Chloe for what happened.

Ayling's lawyer, Pesce, dismissed the attempt to discredit his client, saying "there have been films made about every crime in the world".

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