I feel vindicated: Model’s relief as kidnapper jailed


A Polish man who kidnapped and held for ransom a 20-year-old British model has been sentenced to more than 16 years in prison by an Italian court.

The court handed Herba a prison sentence of 16 years and nine months - a month longer than prosecutors had requested.

Prosecutors said Herba had met Ayling in England at least once before and was "obsessed" with her, and pretended to be from a criminal group called Black Death as part of a convoluted scheme to win her affections.

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

Herba´s defence said that the model had organised the kidnapping with the Pole as a publicity stunt to boost her professional career.

The judges recognised the British model's right to compensation, the amount of which will be determined at a later date, according to the Italian media.

Lukasz Herba held Chloe Ayling, from Coulsdon, captive for six days in a farmhouse near Turin in the Piedmont region, after abducting her during what she thought would be a photo shoot last July. "I was not violent with her", Herba said during the trial. "But it certainly was not as Chloe has described".

Defense lawyer Katia Kolakowska expressed disappointment that the court did not take into account that Ayling emerged from the ordeal physically unharmed. Pesce said Ayling was considering possible civil action in British courts against media outlets that suggested she had lied to become famous.

The prosecutor, Paolo Storari said that Herba had invested over nearly $11,800 into this fake kidnapping scheme.

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

The young model told police she never tried to escape, even when she accompanied her kidnapper into a shoe store, because she was terrified and believed his threats that he was part of a bigger criminal gang.

Ms Ayling denied suggestions the kidnapping was a hoax after it was reported she had gone on a shopping trip with her alleged captor, 30-year-old Lukasz Pawel Herba.

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 vehicle so that her hair would not be found".

His brother, Michal Herba, was arrested in the Tividale area of Sandwell, West Midlands, in August and was ordered to be extradited to face trial in Italy.

In his closing arguments, Storari noted that Herba had invested at least 10,000 euros (A$15,503) in the kidnapping, taking into account real estate rentals and travel.

"It means now she can get on with her life".

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

"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", he said.