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Crime

Man who kidnapped British model Chloe Ayling ‘to sell her to a sex slave ring on the dark web’ gets 16 years in prison

Ayling’s lawyer said the plot was to sell the 20-year-old model for sex in an online auction unless a ransom was paid

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 June, 2018, 1:01am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 June, 2018, 4:56am

A Polish man living in Britain was sentenced to more than 16 years in an Italian prison on Monday for kidnapping British model Chloe Ayling in Milan last July.

Ayling, 20, told Italian police she had been lured to a photo shoot in Italy’s fashion capital last summer, abducted and held captive for six days. Her lawyer said the plot was to sell her for sex in an online auction unless a ransom was paid.

Dark web sex trial: model was readied for auction, police say

Her lawyer, Francesco Pesce, called the conviction and sentencing of Lukasz Pawel Herba “quite an important verdict.” Pesce said Ayling was considering possible civil action in British courts against media outlets that suggested she had lied to become famous.

“There were many cases in which she was publicly shamed about this,” Pesce said.

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

Ayling described the kidnapping in a statement to police last summer, which was published by the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

“A person wearing black gloves came up from behind and put one hand on my neck and the other on my mouth, while a second person, wearing a black balaclava, injected me in my right arm.

Man accused of kidnapping 20-year-old British model

“I think I lost consciousness. When I woke up I was wearing a pink bodysuit and the socks I’m in now. I realised I was in the boot of a car, with my wrists and ankles tied and my mouth taped. I was inside a bag, with only a small hole that allowed me to breathe.”

She screamed and struggled so loudly, she said, that her kidnappers had to pull over three times to try to silence her while en route to their safe house.

Ayling denied suggestions that the kidnapping was a hoax after it was reported she had gone on a shopping trip with Herba.

In London, Ayling’s agent, Adrian Sington, said the verdict was “vindication – her story is true.”

“And it means now she can get on with her life,” Sington said. “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 bizarre story, but it’s a true one.’”

Under Italian law, Herba could have been sentenced to 25 to 30 years for kidnapping and extortion, but prosecutors asked the court in Milan to make allowance for the brief duration of the abduction and a narcissistic personality disorder from which Herba was said to suffer.

“Chloe was treated like something used to satisfy his evil narcissistic needs,” prosecutor Paolo Storari said in court.

Besides the prison sentence of 16 years and nine months, the court also ordered Herba to pay an initial €60,000 (US$71,000) in damages to Ayling, who was a civil plaintiff in the trial. Final damages will be set by a civil court.

The Washington Post and Associated Press contributed to this report