- Lukasz Herba lured the 20-year-old to Milan with prospect of modelling work
- She was drugged and put into a canvas bag before being taken to farmhouse
- Ms Ayling was eventually released to the British consulate in the Italian city
- In a statement to court before verdict Herba said he was in love with his victim
- After the verdict, she said she felt ‘vindicated’ after doubts cast on her story
A Polish man has been found guilty of kidnapping British glamour model Chloe Ayling and sentenced to 16 years and nine months in prison.
Lukasz Herba, 30, from Poland, had claimed the 20-year-old glamour model agreed to be kidnapped as part of a publicity stunt to boost her career.
Her agent, Adrian Sington, said she felt ‘vindicated’ by the verdict: ‘This has been an incredible burden on her shoulders for the last year in the face of media criticism of her motivation and this is vindication – her story is true.
Scroll down for video:
Chloe Ayling was kidnapped and held for six days after showing up for a modelling job in Italy
The glamour model said she felt vindicated by the verdict after doubts had been cast on her version of events
‘It means now she can get on with her life. 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 bizarre story but it’s a true one”.
‘One of the difficulties with a psychopath and a narcissist, as Mr Herba is, is that he behaves in such a way that it’s almost impossible to believe that someone could be so stupid and so, in some ways, it’s not surprising that the media found Chloe’s story difficult to believe.
‘Let’s not forget she was bundled into a suitcase, injected with ketamine in the boot of a car and thought she was going to die.’
Prosecutors said Ms Ayling was drugged and kidnapped after she showed up at a Milan address for a modelling job, then held for six days at a farmhouse in the neighbouring Piedmont region before being released at the British consulate in Milan.
She was lured to Milan with the prospect of work but was drugged and put a canvas bag before being taken to a farmhouse
Prosecutor Paolo Storari said in closing arguments that he based sentence on the possibility that 20-year-old Chloe Ayling could have died during the July 11-17, 2017 kidnapping.
He said she was drugged with ketamine, which knocked her out, then closed up inside a canvas bag and transported to a farmhouse, where she was handcuffed to the furniture for at least the first night.
In a declaration defendants are allowed to have in an Italian court before the verdict was delivered, Herba said he was in love with Ayling, and they had concocted the kidnap plot to help her overcome financial difficulties after the birth of her son.
‘I never hurt the girl. I was not violent with her,’ Herba said.
‘If she felt forced verbally in any way, I am very sorry. But it certainly was not as Chloe has described.’
`I was in love and I was hoping that once her fame took off that she would repay me with feelings and we would share the money,’ he said.
According to prosecutors, Ayling was lured to Milan with the promise of a modeling gig and then drugged when she showed up at a mocked-up photographic studio.
She was zipped inside a canvas pack and transported to a secluded farmhouse in neighboring Piedmont.
Herba sitting in a Milan court room. He has been found guilty of the kidnap of Chloe Ayling
The 30-year-old Pole claimed the kidnap was staged as part of Ms Ayling’s attempt to become a reality TV star
There she was held for six days before Herba released her at the British consulate in Milan. In his initial statement to police, he said he did so out of sympathy for the fact she was a mother.
Ayling told investigators that she never tried to escape, even when she accompanied Herba into a store 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 said she had been told she would be auctioned online since she was not able to come up with € 300,000 (£340,000) in ransom.
She said Herba showed her photos of other girls who were being sold over the deep web.
But in his shifting story line, Herba also testified previously that he had concocted the alleged deep web criminal group `Black Death,’ and that his brother was helping him in the scheme agreed by Ayling.
During Herba’s trial, the court was shown a video of Ms Ayling reconstructing the kidnap
She was held for six days at a farmhouse in the Piedmonte region of northern Italy before being released to the British consulate
Italian prosecutors are seeking the brother’s extradition from Britain.
Herba said he didn’t tell police that Ayling was in on the scheme during his initial statements because he believed she would come forward.
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.
Storari, in his closing arguments, noted that Herba had invested at least €10,000 euros (£8800) in the kidnapping, taking into account real estate rentals and travel.
He said it was unrealistic that Herba would have done so only to get ransom from a young woman without any means.
The prosecutor also cited Herba’s purchase of two ski masks, which Chloe said she saw kidnappers wearing when she was freed from the canvas bag, and the exchange of a note with his brother telling him to clean the trunk of the car well to make sure that there were no traces of her hair.