The lawyer for a British model who was allegedly kidnapped in Milan has said suggestions that she colluded with her captors are ‘evil’.
Chloe Ayling says she was abducted on July 11 in the Italian city by a group calling itself Black Death while she was working at a photo shoot.
The 20-year-old mother-of-one from Coulsdon, south London, claims she was drugged, packed into a zipped bag and driven in a car boot to a remote Italian farmhouse in the village of Borgial, near Turin.
She was allegedly held there for six days while her captors tried to auction her online – her lawyer, Francesco Pesce, said they planned to sell her in the Middle East for sex.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Tuesday, he dismissed suggestions Ms Ayling may have somehow been in on the kidnap, describing it as ‘evil’.
He refuted claims that colluded with her captors, saying she only went along with them because she was acting under duress and was too scared to try to escape.
His statement came after Ms Ayling reportedly told police she developed a ‘trusting relationship’ with her alleged abductor, Polish national Lukasz Herba, 30, who lives in Oldbury, West Midlands.
He has been arrested on kidnapping charges. It was reported that he tried to sell his story to a British newspaper while holding Ms Ayling captive. He also reportedly gave her a card advertising the Black Death group and asked her to publicise it after she was released.
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In statements to the police that were published by The Sun newspaper, Ms Ayling said she shared a bed with her alleged kidnapper, after he handcuffed her to a chest of drawers on her first night of captivity.
She was held until July 17, when Herba drove her to the British Consulate after finding out she was the mother of a two-year-old boy, only to find it closed.
While waiting for it to reopen, the two went for breakfast together.
Ms Ayling said Herba never sexually assaulted her and gave her gifts of chocolate and underwear each morning.
She said she acted under duress and went along with her alleged kidnapper in order to develop a ‘trusting relationship’, and that she still fears for her life.
‘From the second night he took the cuffs from my feet, assuring me that sooner or later I’d be freed so I had no need to escape,’ she told police.
‘From that moment I always slept in his room, sharing the bed. To be clear, he didn’t molest me sexually or ask for sexual favours.’
It also emerged that Herba took Ms Ayling shoe shopping during her time in captivity. When asked about this by police, she reportedly broke down in tears.
It was also reported that Ms Ayling had met Herba before when he booked her for a previous photo shoot in Paris.
Ms Ayling is now back in south London. Speaking outside her home, she said: ‘I’ve been through a terrifying experience. I feared for my life second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour.
‘I am incredibly grateful to the Italian and UK authorities for all they have done to secure my safe release.’
Ms Ayling, who works for Supermodels Agency, had spent a number of weeks after her release being interviewed by Italian police.
Mr Pesce said she only complied with her abductors because she feared she would be killed.
He said: ‘She was told that she was going to be sold to somebody in the Middle East for sex. She was told that people were there watching her and ready to kill her if she tried anything.
‘So she thought that the best idea was to go along with it and to be nice in a way to her captor because he told her that he wanted to release her somehow and sometime and she thought that the best thing to do was not to go in conflict with him.
‘So she abided to his request, “Let’s go and buy groceries”, and “You need shoes, let’s go buy shoes”, and she didn’t try to flee.
‘But I believe she was terrified at the moment and even if she could’ve asked for help she didn’t because she was subjugated to this person, or people as she was given to understand.’
Her agent, Phil Green, of Supermodels Agency, said Ms Ayling was taken to the British Consulate in Milan after the ‘horrific ordeal’, but could not return home to London for almost three weeks.
It is alleged the kidnappers tried to sell Ms Ayling online for more than £230,000 and demanded the model’s agent pay to secure her release.