Monday, 18 June, 2018

Model 'vindicated' as kidnapper jailed for 16 years

Feb. 19 2018 Lukasz Herba sits at a Milan court Italy Feb. 19 2018 Lukasz Herba sits at a Milan court Italy
Jeannette Daniel | 13 June, 2018, 21:07

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.

Italian police said the brothers are members of a group calling itself Black Death, which is active on the dark web and claims to sell women as sex slaves to buyers in the Middle East.

Since returning to Britain, Ayling has given a number of media interviews in which she said she was drugged, gagged, bound, stuffed into a bag, put into the boot of a auto and driven to a village near Turin.

In a declaration that defendants are allowed to have in an Italian court, Herba said he had been in love with Ayling, and they had concocted the kidnap plot to help her overcome financial difficulties after the birth of her son.

Ayling´s lawyer Francesco Pesce said the young model was considering taking legal action to claim damages from those who had "thrown mud" and tried to discredit her - referring to media speculation in certain British tabloids which questioned the model´s version of events during the investigation. He said he fell in love with the model and wanted to help her become famous. 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".

"Let´s not forget she was bundled into a suitcase, injected with ketamine in the boot of a vehicle and thought she was going to die", Sington added. In his initial statement to police, he said he did so out of sympathy for her role as a mother.

In his closing arguments, prosecutor Paolo Storari had demanded 16 years and eight months in prison for Herba, citing the possibility that Ms Ayling could have died during the kidnapping, which took place from July 11-17 last year. "If she felt forced verbally in any way, I am very sorry".

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Some believed the kidnapper, Lukasz Herba, had conspired with Ayling to fake the kidnap in order to get a ransom and raise her public profile.

He had claimed she went with him willingly, which she denied.

Italian prosecutors are seeking the brother's extradition from Britain.

Michael Summers QC, representing Michal Herba at London's High Court, said: "There is cogent evidence to suggest that it was a publicity stunt, rather than a bona fide allegation".

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 a note to his brother telling him to clean the trunk of the vehicle well to make sure that there were no traces of her hair.

During closing arguments, Herba's lawyer cited an email she received from a film producer, who pointed out that Ayling's story closely matched the plot of an American movie titled "By Any Means", released about eight weeks before the 2017 kidnapping.

Her agent Adrian Sington added: "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". "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 weird story, but it's a true one".

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