Chloe Ayling, a glamour model, was "kidnapped" in July last year and held "captive" for 6 days before being let go. Her alleged kidnapper, 30-year-old Lucasz Herba, said in court that the shocking photo circulating on the internet of her "under the effects" of ketamine was all staged.
At Herba's trial on February 22, he made the shocking claim as his evidence that the British model was sober as hell in the picture.
He made the claim after telling the court that he and Ayling met on social networking site Facebook in the summer of 2015 and that the two of them had planned the kidnapping when Ayling had gone to Italy in July 2017.
He said: "She wrote [the ransom notes] with me. My English isn’t too good. She collaborated. She knew that when all the scandal was over she would earn a lot of money and publicity."
Herba rambled on during his testimony and claimed that the photo was staged and that Ayling wasn't under the effect of ketamine as she had originally said. He said after that that he had bought the ketamine, Ayling snorted it and not injected it.
He said: "I’m telling the truth. It was a plan to help Chloe get publicity. The idea was to make up the kidnap to make her famous." As Herba came to a close with his rambling evidence, Paolo Storari, the prosecutor, turned to a reporter from The Sun who was in the court and said: "He’s mad, mad. People like this are dangerous."
The claim about the ketamine was just one of many he made at the hearing in Italy today. The others were:
1. Herba denied that he drugged Ayling with ketamine, which is a horse tranquilizer.
2. He kept insisting that Ayling put herself in a hold-all (a bag) to leave her DNA at the scene.
3. He went back on an alleged confession that he had made to the police earlier.
4. A police computer expert revealing Herba had emailed his brother telling him to buy a gun and a large bag.
5. The kidnap "plot" was only scrapped once Herba and Chloe realized there was "not much publicity".
The 20-year-old mom-of-one Ayling claimed that she was drugged, put in the back of a car and held hostage for 6 days after she went to Milan, Italy, for a "photo shoot" which turned out to be fake. Herba, who is of Polish origin, allegedly grabbed her because he was going to sell her on the dark web. He had created a group called Black Death which is allegedly a human trafficking group.
Critics have pointed out that the kidnap was obviously a publicity stunt because Ayling was seen holding hands with Herba while shopping. Ayling has vehemently denied this claim. Herba gave evidence in court today in his native tongue Polish saying: "The kidnap was planned but it's complicated and not as the girl says."
According to Herba, when the two of them met in Milan they "talked about [the kidnapping] for two hours".
He added: "The plan was that if we had any problems she was to blame someone else for the kidnap." He also added that after they discussed the plan, Ayling, Herba, and his brother got into a car and then drove to a very isolated farm in Turin where she was reportedly held. He denied any claims of being in a relationship with Ayling saying: "I liked her but we never had sex."
Herba denied repeatedly that he injected Ayling with ketamine and said that instead of being "put in a hold-all", she climbed in by herself to leave her DNA as evidence. The court heard that after he was arrested in 2017, Herba told the police that he had kidnapped the model for a Romanian gang.
It was claimed that he needed the money to treat the leukemia that he was diagnosed with and that's why he planned the kidnapping. Initially, Herba said that Ayling was going to be auctioned as a sex slave for the group called Black Death. Once Storari started questioning him, though, he denied everything that he had previously told investigators. Herba said: "It was all invented. I don’t have leukemia. There were no Romanians and there was no Black Death group."
The court also heard that Herba had asked his brother to go buy a gun and a large bag before telling his sibling: "You know why we are going to use it". The Daily Mail reported that police found chilling emails on his laptop that were dated to before Ayling was kidnapped.
The message that he sent to his brother, Michal, read: "Buy a big travel bag. You know what you need, therefore it must be great." Michal replied: "Okay". According to Angelo Maria D'Archangeli, a police expert, even though the police never found any weapons, there was another message that mentioned a semi-automatic weapon.
A video that was shown to the jurors in the court earlier showed Ayling going back to the room where she shared a bed with her alleged kidnapper in the isolated farm. The footage that was shown shows Ayling wearing shorts and a revealing top. She walks the detectives through the place in Turin that was the supposed hideout.
"This is where I slept with Lucasz," Ayling says pointing to a bed.
"He was on one side and I was on the other." According to Gianluca Simontacchi, from the Milan flying squad, Ayling looked "distressed" when she was asked to go back to the farmhouse where she allegedly went through "physical and psychological violence". He added: "She was a little nervous and distressed to go back but she returned with her lawyer so we could film."
When they were in the farmhouse, she explained how her feet were handcuffed and her hands were bound. Angela Napolitano, a forensic toxicologist, said that the urine sample that was sent to be checked for ketamine came back negative but a hair sample reportedly showed signs of the drug. A needle mark was found on Ayling's wrist so prosecutors stuck to the story that she was injected with the drug.
When the cross-examination took place in court, Napolitano said that it was not possible to establish a date for when the ketamine was taken because the drug can stay in hair samples for up to 8 weeks. Phil Green, Ayling's agent, and Herba's brother, Michal, are expected to testify soon.
Michal does not want to go to Italy to testify and he is fighting extradition. His lawyer, George Hepbourne Scott, told The Sun: "Unless they drop the request to extradite him there is no way he is going to testify." Both the brothers are from Poland originally but live in Sandwell, West Midlands. They both deny kidnapping Ayling.
A psychiatric report is currently being prepared so the case is adjourned until next month.
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