A British model has hit out at claims she fabricated her kidnap ordeal describing indepth how she was paralysed with fear after being drugged, handcuffed and gagged in a bid to sell her as a sex slave.
Chloe Ayling, 20, has spoken of her week-long ordeal which saw her drugged with ketamine, taken by balaclava clad men and chained to a chest of drawers in a remote Italian farmhouse after being lured to Milan with the promise of a spoof modelling contract.
Critics have questioned her account after she was seen buying shoes with her captor and laughing and joking with him in coffee shops and admitted to sharing a bed with him during her ordeal.
But in an interview on Sunday, the model claims she was "desperate" to try and "build a bond" with her alleged captor Lukasz Herba in the hope he would set her free.
"I understand why people have questions. People need to understand that everything I did was so I could survive," the model told the Mail On Sunday.
"I was in a crazy situation and I was terrified."
Miss Ayling was put in a bag in the boot of a car by kidnappers who then tried to to sell her as a sex slave in an online auction.
She says it was the "worst day of her life" when her captors told her they were part of an online organisation called ‘Black Death’ and threatened to sell her on the ‘deep web’ if her agent failed to pay a ransom of $300,000 (£270,000).
"I was in shock. That will always be the worst day of my life," she said.
"Then he said he wanted to help me because I had been taken by mistake. He asked me what my family had to offer. It was just me and Mum at home, there was no way we could afford a ransom. I gave him the names of three people who might help.’ I spent the first night seminaked and handcuffed to the chest of drawers."
She was told that she would probably by trafficked to the Middle East where, once the man who bought her bored of her, she would be passed on to someone else or fed to the tigers.
Lukasz Pawel Herba, 30, a Polish national who lives in the UK, has been arrested by police and confessed to the kidnapping which investigators described as an elaborate plot that involved months of planning.
His home in Oldbury, in the West Midlands, has been raided by British officers.
It was reported last night that Milan magistrate Dr Giovanna Campanile had ruled Mr Herba was "highly dangerous to society" and should remain in custody ahead of his trial later this year.
"There is grave evidence of the guilt of the arrested person, who has admitted to the Public Prosecutor that he was involved in the kidnap," he said.
It is claimed Mr Herba has also implicated nine men in the plot, three from Birmingham, but has made no mention of Miss Ayling.
Miss Ayling told Italian police that her agent had booked her a photo shoot in Milan on July 11 but when she turned up at the abandoned building she was attacked.
“A person wearing black gloves came from behind and put one hand on my neck and one on my mouth to stop me from screaming,”she said in her statement.
“A second person wearing a black balaclava gave me an injection in my right forearm. I think I lost consciousness. When I woke up I was wearing a pink bodysuit and the socks I am wearing now.
“I realised I was in the boot of a car with my wrists and ankles handcuffed, adhesive tape on my mouth. I was inside a bag and was only able to breathe through a small hole.”
She claims she was initially forced to lie on the floor next to a chest of drawers and was handcuffed but later was allowed to move freely and sleep in the same bed as her alleged captor.
Last night she said: "People might think I’m gullible. It’s easy to say that if you’ve not been through what I’ve been through.
"I didn’t want to upset him – he had told me he was a killer. Anyone in my position would have done the same.
"I couldn’t run. I was paralysed with fear. I thought they would track me down."
They had taken compromising photographs of her whilst she was unconscious which were posted on the dark web with the view to auctioning her off.
However, one of them confessed to her that they had made a mistake seizing her because she was the mother of a young child.
He said it was against the “rules” of his organisation and his superiors were angry.
They later released her and drove her to the British Consulate in Milan on July 17.
The day before the pair had been seen in a shop together buying shoes, and Miss Ayling told police that she "made him believe we could be more intimate when the incident ended" so that she could escape.
Since her release Miss Ayling has been helping Italian police.
She told police she had met Mr Herba a few months earlier on a shoot that was aborted in Paris.