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Italian court convicts man over kidnap of model

13 June 2018

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

Ayling says she was asked to take part in a photoshoot in Milan, but when she arrived was drugged, stuffed into a suitcase and held for six days at a remote farmhouse in Turin.

Herba was arrested when he released Ayling at the Milan consulate. After being lured to Milan, Ayling was knocked out with a drug, zipped inside a canvas bag and transported to a farmhouse, where she was handcuffed to the furniture for at least the first night, he said.

Defendant Herba, 30, had claimed Ayling agreed to the scheme to boost her career.

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

"I was in love", Herba said, "and I was hoping that once her fame took off that she would repay me with feelings and we would share the money".

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"It was evident that she needed help, because she was without money, I had become her friend and I was in love with her", Herba said, "I did everything to help her, all the worldwide scandal that resulted from it was only used to make her famous".

Ms Ayling, of Coulsdon, south London, has always insisted she has told the truth about her alleged captivity.

Ayling said she was told the deep-web "Black Death Group" wanted to sell her at auction for 300,000 euros ($355,000), unless she could come up with the ransom.

Prosecutor Paolo Storari said that Ayling´s version of events was "more than founded by the evidence provided", including a message from Lucasz to Michal in which he told his brother to "clean the boot of the auto so that her hair would not be found".

During the hearing the accused said he had elaborated the scheme with the young mother because he was in love with her.

Herba maintained his innocence throughout the trial, saying he was never violent with Ms Ayling.

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Storari, in his closing arguments, noted that Herba had invested at least 10,000 euros (nearly $11,800) in the kidnapping, taking into account real estate rentals and travel.

"And it means now she can get on with her life", Sington said. According to the Sun, Herba was also ordered to pay £60,000 damages to Chloe for what happened.

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.

Her agent Adrian Sington added: "This has been an incredible burden on her shoulders for the past year in the face of media criticism of her motivation, and this is vindication - her story is true".

Herba said he did not tell police that Ms Ayling was in on the scheme during his initial statements because he believed she would come forward herself and defend him.

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Italian court convicts man over kidnap of model