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Polish man from the Black Country is convicted of kidnapping British model in Italy

Oldbury | World News | Published:

Lukasz Herba was jailed for more than 16 years over the kidnapping of Chloe Ayling.

Model Chloe Ayling, 20, who has reportedly arrived back in the UK, and, left, a police photo of a man identified as Lukasz Pawel Herba

"It means now she can get on with her life - she's able to say, 'I know it's a bizarre story but it's a true one'."

The words of model Chloe Ayling's lawyer after a man from the Black Country was jailed in Italy for kidnapping her and holding her captive for six days.

It was a remarkable tale which could have been taken from the script of a horror movie.

Played out in a rural Italian village, the crime would eventually be traced back to the Black Country.

Ms Ayling claimed she was snatched after being lured to a fake modelling shoot in Milan before being bundled into the boot of a car and held at a remote farmhouse.

Lukasz Herba, 30, from Tividale, was jailed for nearly 17 years after being convicted of kidnapping the model by an Italian court.

Following the hearing the 20-year-old from south London said she felt 'vindicated' by the verdict. She had been accused of staging the kidnap to become famous.

Polish-born Herba had been living at a block of flats in Tividale, which was raided by police after the case made international headlines. He had pleaded his innocence by claiming the model was in on it all along.

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But the case was taken very seriously by police and courts in Italy, so seriously that Herba was today starting a jail sentence of 16 years and nine months.

Authorities there said that after attending for what she thought was a modelling opportunity, the young model was drugged and taken to neighbouring Piedmont where she was kept in a farmhouse and handcuffed to furniture. Herba was said to have been acting for a group which sells women as sex slaves on the 'dark web' to buyers in the Middle East.

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.

She was held as her captor tried to auction her off online but after six days was released to the British consulate, it was said.

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Lawyers acting for Herba had suggested the kidnap was a stunt dreamed up to boost Ms Ayling's career. The model appeared on several TV shows in the weeks following the kidnap to tell her story.

Her agent Adrian Sington, from Kruger Cowne, said: "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.

"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."

The lawyer for Ms Ayling, Francesco Pesce, called it 'quite an important verdict'.

He said he would seek half a million euros (£438,000) in compensation in separate proceedings, while conceding it was unlikely that Herba would be able to pay.

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.

He said the model was drugged with ketamine, which knocked her out, then put inside a canvas bag and transported to a farmhouse, where she was handcuffed to the furniture for at least the first night.

Former neighbours of Herba at the flats in Tividale were left stunned when it emerged he was caught up in an international police investigation. They said Herba had not been seen for around three weeks before the kidnapping in July 2017.

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.

Prior to that he was said to have come and gone wearing a suit driving to and from the property in a red Toyota.

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