Model Chloe Ayling breaks her silence today to reveal her full astonishing account of how she was lured to a fake assignment in Milan
Model Chloe Ayling breaks her silence today to reveal her full astonishing account of how she was lured to a fake assignment in Milan then drugged, kidnapped, and held hostage by masked men to be sold as a sex slave in an internet auction.
In an exclusive interview with The Mail on Sunday, the 20-year-old tells, in her own words, the dramatic story of her capture and release that has made headlines around the world.
Held for six nights in a remote Italian farmhouse, the model was finally freed when her alleged captor Lukasz Herba, 30, a Polish national living in Oldbury, West Midlands, took her to the British Consulate in Milan.
Her account comes as The Mail on Sunday reveals new court documents confirming key details of her story.
Milan magistrate Dr Giovanna Campanile ruled Herba was ‘highly dangerous to society’ and should remain in custody ahead of his trial later this year. Dr Campanile added in a preliminary hearing on July 20: ‘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.’
We can also reveal that:
Responding to suggestions of doubt about her story, Miss Ayling said last night: ‘I understand why people have questions. People need to understand that everything I did was so I could survive. I was in a crazy situation and I was terrified. It has been so frustrating and hurtful to have people not believe me. I know the truth, my family knows the truth and it will all come out at the trial.’
Her mother Bea said: ‘Chloe has been through a terrible ordeal. I don’t know how anybody can doubt her. She deserves our support after what she has been through.’
PICTURE EXCLUSIVE: The moment Chloe knew her ordeal was over. Chloe Ayling – dressed in her captor’s tracksuit – sits in an Italian police station after being released from her kidnap terror. The picture was taken by police to send to her mother so she could be identified
After a painstaking three-week investigation, police in Italy charged Herba with kidnapping and extortion last Saturday, and Miss Ayling was finally allowed to return home to the UK.
Cosmo De Rose, the solicitor acting for Herba, said his client had not made any statement implicating Miss Ayling in the kidnap.
When asked if Herba had ever alleged that Miss Ayling had taken part in a conspiracy, he replied: ‘No. This has not emerged. Absolutely not. No, no, no.’
A source close to the prosecutor’s office in Milan said investigations are ongoing but Miss Ayling’s story was ‘credible’.
The source added that Miss Ayling’s account was backed by evidence of a puncture wound to her wrist where she was injected with the horse drug ketamine.
Her hair was found in the boot of the car Herba was driving, and forensic tests revealed traces of the drug in her body.
Chloe Ayling felt a growing sense of unease as she stepped into the dingy warehouse on the outskirts of Europe’s fashion capital Milan.
She had been expecting to find a bustling studio where she had been booked to star in a glamorous photoshoot advertising motorcycle leathers. Instead, she was met by an eerie silence.
Laying her black, wheeled suitcase on the tiled floor, Chloe, 20, was briefly reassured when, peering down the gloomy corridor, she saw a laminated sign on a door to her left marked ‘Studio’.
Dressed comfortably in a pink Zara jacket, pink body suit, blue River Island jeans and white Adidas trainers, she turned towards the door ready for her assignment.
A person taking part in a reenactment by Italian police shows how kidnapped British model Chloe Ayling was kept in a bag
But as she reached for the handle, a gloved hand suddenly came from behind and smothered her face.
Gripped by fear and panic, and unable to breathe, she tried desperately to wriggle free. Then, to her horror, a second attacker appeared in front of her, his face covered by a sinister black ski mask. Chillingly, he was brandishing a syringe.
Seconds later Chloe was wrestled to the floor, her jacket was ripped off her to expose her bare arms, and the syringe plunged into her right wrist. Within seconds she was unconscious.
That was the dramatic start of a terrifying kidnapping story that has made headlines around the world.
Today, in an exclusive interview with The Mail on Sunday, Chloe bravely reveals the full horror of her seven-day ordeal, in her own words…
TUESDAY, JULY 11
He had a syringe… then everything went black
‘I had never been to Italy before so I was really looking forward to it. I arrived a day early, so I could go shopping and be fresh for my shoot, and bought two bikinis.
‘The job had been booked by a photographer called Andre Lazio, who I had met briefly once before in Paris in April on another shoot that was cancelled at the last minute.’
Lukasz Herba, photographed by police after being arrested over the kidnapping of glamour model Chloe Ayling
In reality, Lazio was a 30-year-old Polish man, Lukasz Herba, living in a council flat in Oldbury, West Midlands, who was to become her abductor. He is now in custody in Italy charged with kidnapping and extortion. Friends of the self-proclaimed ‘businessman’ have revealed his ambitions to become a millionaire while neighbours branded him ‘creepy’ and a ‘fantasist’, and claimed he walked around with a large pet rat on his shoulder. His mother, who lives in Poland, insists her son has been caught up in a plot not of his making. While denying he was part of the initial kidnap gang, he has admitted his involvement to police in everything else.
‘He had sent me an email via my agent Phil Green giving me the address for the studio. He said the door would be open and I should let myself in. I walked through the open door and put my luggage down. I was expecting to hear people setting up the shoot but there was silence. It was a bit creepy but then I saw a door with a sign on it which said “Studio”. As I reached for the handle, I felt an arm come around my neck from behind me.I tried to scream but a gloved hand was covering my mouth and my nose.
I panicked because I couldn’t breathe and I brought my hands up to my face. I was trying to get his fingers off my nose and I managed to catch one breath.
‘Another man stepped in front of me wearing a black ski-mask. I could see only his eyes and mouth. He yanked my jacket off me and grabbed my right arm. He had a syringe in his right hand.
‘This was my worst nightmare. I didn’t know what was in the syringe. I was panicking. I thought they were going to rob or rape me. I was terrified beyond words.
They dragged me to the floor. I just gave up – I thought, “I’m not going to get out of here alive.” I felt trapped, then everything went black.’
Police forensic tests later showed the model had been injected with ketamine – a powerful horse tranquilliser. While unconscious, the men stripped Chloe of her trainers, jeans and baseball cap and, most disturbingly, took photos of her semi-naked body. They would later use the horrifying image to advertise her ‘for sale’ as a sex-slave on the dark web – an encrypted part of the internet used by criminals. Her clothes, passport, credit cards and iPhone were found the next day when police raided the address after Chloe’s agent raised the alarm.
Chloe was jumped by men in masks who inject her with ketamine before stripping her to her underwear and photographing her. The picture, above, was emailed to her agent and used to advertise her ‘for sale’ on the dark web
‘I woke up in the boot of a moving car feeling terrible. It was like anyone’s worst nightmare come true. My mouth was taped shut. I could hear the car’s radio blaring.
‘Both my feet and hands were handcuffed in front of me. I realised I was inside a bag. I felt groggy, claustrophobic and I started panicking. I was wearing just my knickers, socks and body suit. I touched my face and managed to rip the tape off my mouth. The bag had a hole in so I could breathe and see out a little.
‘I managed to unzip it enough to get my arms out. The car was a hatchback and I started banging on the underneath of the flimsy retractable parcel shelf, shouting, “Driver, driver!”
‘The car radio was playing but they could hear me. I felt the car pull over. The boot opened and, through the hole in the bag, I saw two men in ski-masks standing over me.
‘I asked them, “What’s happening?” but they didn’t reply. It was terrifying. They calmly tightened my handcuffs and zipped the holdall back up.
‘We started moving again and it was so hot inside the bag that sweat was pouring off my face.
‘I managed to open the holdall again and was shouting. They stopped again and this time, pulled me up and cuffed my hands behind my back. As they were doing this I noticed, through a gap in the parcel shelf, that they had an empty suitcase sitting on top. It was about my size. That was the moment I gave up hope and accepted I was going to die.
‘I thought they were going to kill me and dump me in the suitcase. I thought, “I am never going to see my mum or my son Ashton again.”’
Having become frustrated at her yells and the banging, Chloe says her abductors pulled over for a third time. One of the men got into the boot with her for the remainder of the journey.
‘The man who got into the car with me was unmasked. He was tall and pale. He lay behind me, and spoke to me in English with a foreign accent. He told me, “You’re going to be fine. Nothing bad will happen to you.” I couldn’t believe him.
‘He took off my handcuffs and unzipped the bag a bit. I asked, “What is going on, where are we going?” But he wouldn’t tell me.
‘The journey felt like hours. We stopped and the boot opened. The unmasked man told me I must put the handcuffs back on or he would inject me again. I was zipped back up in the bag and lifted out of the back of the car.
‘They carried me for about two minutes and I could hear birds and I knew I was no longer in the city.
‘Then they carried me indoors, placed me down and unzipped the holdall and let me out.
‘The house was dark and cold – all the windows were shuttered. We were in a basic kitchen with a big wooden table, some cabinets and faded yellow walls. I was still in my underwear and felt incredibly vulnerable and scared.
‘They took the handcuffs off my wrists but left them on my ankles so I could just about hobble.
‘The unmasked man led me up the concrete stairs into a small room with wooden floors, a small bed, and a large chest of drawers which had a sleeping bag laid out next to it. I was allowed to go to the toilet. The man came in with me. It was awful.
‘Then the masked man came in and gestured for me to lay on the sleeping bag. He opened the handcuffs on one ankle, wrapped the chain around the drawer’s legs and re-attached it to my other ankle. He then re-attached the handcuffs to one wrist, and wrapped the chain around the leg of the chest of drawers.
‘They went back downstairs talking in a foreign language. The unmasked man then came back upstairs. He said they had just spoken to their boss and there had been a mistake. He said they had taken the wrong woman.
‘I felt a rush of relief because that might mean they would let me go. He said the boss was on his way and he had to leave me to go on another job. He left the room and a sudden wave of terror passed over me. I started hoping that the photographer Andre would report me missing.
‘It sounds crazy but I hoped I’d be freed that day. I was thinking how worried my mum would be when I heard someone enter the house through the front door.
‘There were raised, angry voices. A door slammed and a man sounded like he made an angry phone call. Another man came into the room. He unlocked my hands, took the tape off my mouth, and I turned to look at him.
Chloe is unable to say with any certainty that the man now in front of her was one of the two masked kidnappers from the car. But she is certain that she never saw the tall, pale man from the car boot again. He may be a Pole known as Tom, according to statements given to police by Herba.
‘The new man wasn’t wearing a mask. He told me: “I don’t know if you remember me but we met in Paris”. I was confused. I looked at him and asked, “Andre the photographer?” He said coldly, “I am definitely not a photographer.”
‘He told me he was a senior member of a gang called Black Death which kidnaps young white women and sells them online to wealthy Arabs. He said he was known in the gang as MD.’
In fact, Chloe would only come to know her abductor by his real name, Lukasz Herba, after his arrest when Italian police revealed his true identity.
‘He told me there had been a big mistake because they don’t kidnap mothers. He said the Paris photoshoot had been a trap to kidnap me but he had called it off after he looked at my Instagram photos and saw that I had a young son. He said he was angry at the men who kidnapped me because they had misread his email that said I “mustn’t” be kidnapped. He explained they thought it said “must”. I didn’t know what to believe. I just asked if they would let me go but he told me I had already been advertised and there was a lot of interest in me.
‘He said the auction would still go ahead in five days – Sunday – and the starting bid was $300,000 US dollars [£270,000]. That was too much to take in. I was in shock. That will always be the worst day of my life. 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.’
WEDNESDAY, JULY 12
He said I’d be crazy to try to escape – I’d be killed at once
Three wealthy contacts of Chloe were named in a ransom message sent to her agent, Phil Green. They have confirmed they were contacted by UK police. Chloe named her friend Rory McCarthy, an investment banker, celebrity talent agency boss Dave Read and Paul Baxendale-Walker, the wealthy former owner of Loaded magazine, who she knew through modelling. Mr Green received an email at 10.34am on July 12 revealing she had been kidnapped and demanding money from the named men. He reported the message to police in Lincolnshire, Italy, and to the British Consulate in Milan. A major investigation was launched. Police swooped on the Milan studio and found Chloe’s clothes, suitcase and personal items left abandoned.
‘I spent the first night semi-naked and handcuffed to the chest of drawers. I felt so tired and groggy from the drugs that I did actually sleep despite everything that had happened. My mind was just in total lockdown. I was so terrified I couldn’t even cry out, he’d told me we were in a remote area with no one around to help.
‘The next morning he came into the room, sat down on the bed and told me his boss at Black Death – who he called CK – had said if my family paid “whatever they could afford” I could be released on Sunday.
‘He told me he felt sorry for the mistake. He said he was willing to pay most of the ransom himself to make things right. I was clutching at straws now that I might survive. Strange as it sounds now, I never thought he was a crazy person. I believed him completely, I was so terrified I couldn’t think straight. He had been so convincing, from the moment he came into the house and was angry with the others for kidnapping me. It just seemed to make sense at the time. People might think I’m gullible. It’s easy to say that if you’ve not been through what I’ve been through.
‘Next he uncuffed me so I could go to the bathroom. When I came back, he said I didn’t have to put the handcuffs back on. Suddenly, there was a glimmer of hope.
‘But at the same time, he told me he was an assassin for Black Death and showed me two knives. He said his favourite method of murder was poison. He was talking so casually, it was terrifying. He said that he had worked for Black Death for five years and had earned $15 million [£11.5 million].
PRISON: The remote mountain shack where she was held during her ordeal
‘He said I would be crazy to try to escape now because I would be instantly killed. He said we were no longer in Italy, somewhere very remote, and that Black Death agents were nearby.
‘I promised him I wouldn’t try to escape. Then he told me I could share the double bed in the next room. Literally anything was better than lying handcuffed on the floor so I said yes. I didn’t want to upset him – he had told me he was a killer. Anyone in my position would have done the same. Anyone.
‘I lay on the double bed, he sat down next to me and he talked at me for hours. He was not interested in talking about me – it was as if he was trying to impress me and feed his ego.
‘I wanted to block it all out but I encouraged him to talk. I thought if he liked me he might not kill me.
‘He fell asleep on his side of the bed. I couldn’t run. I was paralysed with fear. I thought they would track me down. I silently cried myself to sleep. I didn’t want to cry in front of him.
‘That night, I must have cried for two hours thinking about my family. I imagined what it would be like if I was sold as a sex slave. Earlier, he had told me that when the buyers get bored of the girls they feed them to tigers.’
THURSDAY, JULY 13
I heard a helicopter… but the sound faded away
Phil Green responds to the ransom email with the single word: ‘Received.’ Herba sends a rambling email to three British media organisations informing them of Chloe’s kidnapping and imminent auction. One of the media organisations contacts the police but is warned that broadcasting the story could jeopardise Chloe’s safety. There is a news blackout.
‘That morning he allowed me to have a shower for the first time in three days. I didn’t want to get out of the cubicle because I knew when I did I would walk straight back into my nightmare. I was still dressed in my knickers and the top from when I had been stripped two days earlier. He gave me a pair of his clean boxer shorts and one of his T-shirts to wear.
‘He had offered me food – it looked like bread dipped in honey – but I refused. I hadn’t eaten because I was scared he would poison me but I had no appetite.
‘I was losing all hope of ever seeing my family again. I imagined my son growing up without a mother and my mum without her daughter.
‘I’m obsessed with my teeth so I asked for toothpaste and a toothbrush. He bought them and I would brush my teeth four times a day. It’s something you take for granted but, in the house, that tiny act of brushing my teeth meant so much to me. I had no other toiletries – no razor or hairbrush.
‘I spent another day in the bedroom. I wasn’t allowed downstairs. He talked and talked to me. There were shutters on the outside and they were always closed so I couldn’t see outside. It just went on and on. It was torture.
‘At some point I heard the sound of a helicopter circling somewhere overhead the house. It must have been for about ten or 15 minutes. It was enough to make my captor paranoid that it might be police or military. My heart was racing that it might be a rescue attempt but it went away. The sound faded then stopped. I was devastated.’
The room where she was held, with the chest of drawers she was initially handcuffed to
FRIDAY, JULY 14
He said he wanted to kiss me. I lied: ‘Maybe, when I’m free’
Chloe says her captor confided that he was developing feelings towards her, claiming he wanted to quit Black Death and maybe they could meet in the future. It was like a reverse Stockholm Syndrome, where long-term hostages form strong feelings for their abductors. She decides to lead him on so he will think twice about harming or killing her. Although a website exists on the dark web, it remains unclear whether Black Death is a functioning criminal gang or created by Herba’s warped imagination as part of his plot.
‘After another night trying to block out the nightmare I was living by sleeping, I awoke. He told me I looked beautiful several times. I thanked him. I didn’t want to upset him. He said he really wanted to kiss me but I replied, maybe, once I was free. I was just leading him on and hanging on to the thought he might release me.
‘The thought of kissing him disgusted me and I had no intention of going through with it. Despite sharing the bed, under two separate blankets, there was no physical contact between us at all. Later that day, he gave me some milk chocolate because he could see how weak I was getting. I finally ate. It was the first thing I’d had for three days.
‘The days were dragging by – each minute felt like an hour. It was another day waiting and hoping for my release.
‘I spent the time tormented by thoughts of dying and thinking about my family and what was going to happen to me.
‘At times the worry of how my mum was coping became worse than how much I was worried about myself.
‘We are best friends and normally send each other text messages every two hours or so. She is a worrier anyway so I knew just how she would be feeling and I was heartbroken.
‘I thought about her all the time and about my little boy.
‘He [her captor] gave me two books – battered old paperbacks, I can’t remember what they were – but I couldn’t read them because I couldn’t concentrate. I just couldn’t focus on anything apart from being held against my will. It sounds strange given the circumstances but I’m normally glued to my phone, and it felt really strange not having a mobile or being in contacts with friends and social media. I felt cut off from the world.’
SATURDAY, JULY 15
I couldn’t run away. Black Death would be watching me
As he had done every day, Herba left the house in the morning, for about 20 minutes to drive down the road, ostensibly to get better mobile reception to check his emails. Police are now examining his mobile devices but have not revealed if he was talking or emailing anyone. Enquiries by the Mail on Sunday suggest he was spotted in the village drinking coffee alone. It emerged after his arrest that Herba’s UK girlfriend, Natalia, thought he was on a business trip in Texas.
‘He would leave me alone in the house for up to half an hour at a time. But I didn’t dare make a run for it or even go downstairs because I believed Black Death would be watching my every move. I know it might sound incredible but I was in a state of total trauma. I had been drugged and taken forcibly. I was simply scared out of my mind all the time I was held hostage and just wasn’t thinking straight.
‘He came back in and said my agent had replied that he might be able to raise some money for my release. I was elated. Then he said his boss told him they may now push back the auction to see if they could get more money from the agent.
‘I was devastated, For the first time I broke down in tears in front of him. The thought of even one extra day was inconceivable. I was inconsolable and he looked shocked at my reaction.
‘He started trying to cheer me up. He revealed we were still in Italy and said he would take me to the local village the next day.
‘This seemed like a sign I might get released after all. Later, for the first time all week, he brought me some of the food he had been eating downstairs. We ate tinned ham and gherkins. It did not taste great but I had hardly eaten anything since Tuesday and was starving. I saw he ate it first so I knew it must be safe. I couldn’t have risked it otherwise.’
SUNDAY, JULY 16
I was finally allowed out and saw the mountains. Beautiful.
Chloe’s family are frantic, waiting for news from police. No one knows whether the auction threatened by Herba on the dark web will go ahead. Chloe herself is still desperately trying to build emotional ties with her kidnapper in a bid to save her life and see her family again.
‘He woke up really early. He said that I had to have a shower and that he was going to relieve the sexual frustrations that had been building all week. I closed the bathroom door. I knew what he was doing. We didn’t talk about it afterwards.’
Italian police forensic experts later found traces of semen on the double bed they had shared. During interviews, they asked Chloe if she had been raped or sexually assaulted, which she had not. There is no other suggestion from police that the pair engaged in any sexual relations and Chloe insists Herba never touched her.
‘When I came out of the shower, he gave me a baggy blue and red tracksuit and his large flip-flops. I looked ridiculous. Finally, I was allowed downstairs and, when he opened the door to the house, I saw the mountains. It was such a beautiful view. The bright sunlight stung my eyes after days spent indoors with no natural light. I hadn’t even been downstairs since the day they first brought me to the house.’
The pair drive into the nearby village of Viu, a stop-off for people hiking in the region’s mountains, in Herba’s car.
‘It was a ten-minute drive. We parked and walked into a hiking shop and I grabbed the first pair of trainers I saw. They were one size too big but it didn’t matter.
‘People have asked me since why didn’t I run away or raise the alarm. I thought it was too risky. He told me I was being watched. I was afraid if I ran off they would hunt me down and kill me.
‘I didn’t speak the language and was scared no one would understand me. He had a knife and he had said I would be killed if I tried to escape.
‘We bought some fruit at the grocer and headed back to the house in the car. Later, he did another email check and when he came back into the room he said his boss had agreed I could be released but with strict conditions. I was so happy but I wouldn’t let myself believe it would happen – I was terrified he would change his mind again.
‘He said there were conditions and showed me an email he claimed was from Black Death. It said I had to pay $50,000 [£39,000] within one month of my release. Of course, I agreed immediately. I knew I would never be able to afford it but I didn’t care – I was desperate to go free. He also gave me some other bizarre conditions: I couldn’t criticise or bad-mouth Black Death in the media and I couldn’t talk to the police.
‘He initially said he would drop me off at a police station in Milan. Then he changed his mind and told me he would take me to the British Consulate when it opened at 9.30am. He first said he would drop me 20 minutes away and I could walk there – that was the reason I needed the trainers. It was a long drive so he set his alarm for 4am.’
After giving her account to police over 15 hours, Chloe subsequently spends three weeks in Italy under police protection
MONDAY, JULY 17
I walked up to a woman and said: I’ve been abducted
‘We woke early and left for Milan at about 4.30am. I was so excited when we left the house. I was starting to believe he actually might be preparing to release me. He typed the postcode of the consulate into the sat-nav and I pretended to doze off but I was keeping an eye on the sat-nav. At some point he decided that he would take me all the way to the consulate.
‘He told me I was lucky as only six girls had ever been released from the thousands taken by Black Death, and that was because their parents had paid their ransom.
‘He said he would drop me off 20 minutes from the consulate but we arrived so early he said he didn’t want to leave me on my own and that he would drop me at the building.
‘He told me to say he was a friend I had called after I had escaped my abductor. We were two hours early so we went to a cafe next to the building.
‘He seemed very calm. When the consulate building opened we walked in but we were still five minutes too early so we waited in reception. We got in a lift up to the office.
‘Two armed soldiers were standing by an intercom. I buzzed it and a woman’s voice asked if I had an appointment. I said, “No, it’s an emergency – I want to talk in private”.
‘The door opened and we walked in. I walked up to the woman at the counter, an Italian employee, and told her, “I’ve been abducted”.
‘She asked my name and I told her. He was behind me and I saw him put on his sunglasses. It was quite bizarre.
The woman said, “Come with me”. He looked annoyed when she told him he wasn’t allowed in and tried to insist on coming. Then he said, “I’m leaving” and started walking off. The woman told him, “Don’t go, we need you here.” She opened a door for me to go through to a private room and we sat down together.
‘I told her I had been kidnapped at a modelling studio and broke down in tears.
I started telling her the story and she started crying too. She told me she knew who I was.
‘I didn’t tell her the man I was with was my abductor because I was still scared he’d have me killed. But the woman had already called the police.
‘About ten plain-clothes officers came in and surrounded him near the lift. He looked at me and shook his head. It was a look that said, “Don’t say anything.” Two police officers and the female consulate worker walked me into the lift. They took me to a police car and put the sirens on as we drove to the police station. I was free.’
After giving her account to police over 15 hours, Chloe subsequently spends three weeks in Italy under police protection before Herba is charged officially and she is allowed to return to the UK. Since news broke of her kidnapping ordeal, and she was pictured at home in Surrey smiling, Chloe has faced public scrutiny and even questions about whether she might have been involved in the plot as a publicity stunt to further her career.
‘Even after my kidnapper was taken into custody, I was still terrified. I feared other members of Black Death might be hunting for me. I could barely eat or sleep. But the first time I finally spoke to my mum, two days after my release, I broke down and wept. I just cried and cried.
‘I feel so happy to be home but I still feel wary. In the back of my mind part of me is still worried that maybe Black Death is real and they will come after me.
‘I understand why people have questions. People need to understand that everything I did was so I could survive. I was in a crazy situation and I was terrified every minute. I thought I was never going to get home.
‘It has been so frustrating and hurtful to have people not believe me and to cast doubt on what I have been through.
So many lies have been said. But I know the truth, the police know the truth and it will all come out at the trial.
‘This experience has taught me what is really important in life. I am so happy to finally be home. People were criticising me for smiling when I was photographed back home – but why wouldn’t I smile? I survived.’
Herba remains in custody in a high-security jail awaiting trial. He claims he was manipulated by Romanian gangsters but has admitted his role in the kidnap plot. He has given police the names of nine men he said were also involved in the plot, including three Romanians from Birmingham.
Herba reportedly told police he joined the gang because he had leukaemia and needed money. But Italian police sources have described Herba as a ‘mythomaniac’, and ‘pathological liar’ and said there is no medical proof of his illness.
Milan magistrate Dr Giovanna Campanile ruled that Herba is ‘highly dangerous to society’ and that he should remain in custody ahead of his trial, according to legal papers seen by The Mail on Sunday. Dr Campanile added: ‘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 of Chloe Ayling.’
When asked if his client had ever alleged Miss Ayling was part of a conspiracy over her kidnapping, Herba’s lawyer, Cosmo De Rose replied: ‘No. This has not emerged. Absolutely not. No, no, no.’