Man sentenced for kidnapping model, trying to sell her online

Herba is standing trial for the alleged kidnap

A man has been found guilty of kidnapping model Chloe Ayling and sentenced to 16 years and nine months in prison.

While on trial in February in Italy, the court was shown CCTV footage of Ayling walking hand-in-hand with Herba the day before she was released.

At the start of the trial in February, a police officer told the court that Ms Ayling had been drugged, handcuffed and transported in a suitcase.

Herba has claimed that the kidnap plot was faked as a publicity stunt, but Ayling has always said that she was never part of any scam.

Italian law foresees a sentence of 25 to 30 years for kidnapping and extortion, but prosecutors asked the court in Milan to make allowance for the short duration of the abduction and a narcissistic personality disorder from which Herba was said to suffer.

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

Chloe Ayling's agent said Herba's conviction was proof her story was true. Her lawyer said the plot was to sell her for sex in an online auction unless a ransom was paid.

Mr Sington said: "Let's not forget she was bundled into a suitcase, injected with ketamine in the boot of a vehicle, and thought she was going to die".

When no money came through, he released her, hoping he would show some kind of fake "mercy" which would build her feelings for him.

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Her lawyer, Adrian Sington, said in a statement that his client felt "vindicated" by the verdict, the Telegraph UK reported.

Chloe, of Coulsdon, south London, told prosecutors she did not try to escape from the farmhouse because she believed Herba's story that he was working for a criminal gang who were constantly watching.

She said she had been told that she would be auctioned off online since she was not able to come up with 300,000 euros (A$465,097) that the criminal "Black Death" group was seeking.

The Italian court is also seeking extradition for Herba's brother Michal over the kidnapping.

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.

During closing arguments, his lawyer, Katia Kolakowska, cited an email she received from a USA 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.

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.

The prosecutor also cited Herba's purchase of two ski masks, which Chloe said she saw kidnappers wearing when she was freed from the canvas bag, and the exchange of notes with his brother about cleaning the vehicle trunk well to make sure there were no traces of her hair.

"And it means now she can get on with her life", Sington said.

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