Lukasz Herba, 30, lured Chloe Ayling from South London to Italy last July with the promise of a photo shoot — and then injected her with the horse tranquilizer ketamine, a Milan court found, Herba, allegedly aided by his brother Michel, stuffed the 20-year-old blonde into a suitcase and drove her 120 miles to a remote cottage in Turin, where she was held for six days.
Italian police said the brothers were members of a group called the Black Death, which tries to sell women on the dark web as sex slaves.
The kidnappers told Ayling she would be auctioned online since she wasn’t able to come up with the $353,000 ransom they demanded, she told investigators.
The mom of one said she never tried to escape — even when she was pictured going shoe shopping with Herba — because she believed her abductor’s threats that members of his gang were watching her. Ultimately, the kidnappers dropped her off at the British consulate in Milan, after she says they found out she has a 2-year-old son.
But Herba claimed Ayling was in cahoots with him from the get-go, staging her abduction with him in a desperate bid for money and fame. He said he fell in love with the model and wanted to help her become famous.
Ayling categorically denied the accusation. Her lawyer, Adrian Sington, said in a statement that his client felt “vindicated” by the verdict, the Telegraph UK reported.
“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,” he said. “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.’”
Though he was sentenced to 16 years and nine months in the slammer for the plot, Herba’s lawyers maintained in their closing arguments that the kidnapping was a publicity stunt, citing an email from a US film producer who said Ayling’s story matched the plot of the 2017 film “By Any Means.”
But the court ruled out any involvement by Ayling. Herba’s brother, who also denies being involved, is in the process of being extradited to the UK on kidnapping charges.