British model was ‘too afraid to escape captors’ during shopping trip
Police said Chloe Ayling was taken by group calling itself Black Death
A British model who was allegedly kidnapped in Milan was too terrified to try to get away from her captor when he took her shoe shopping and to buy groceries, her lawyer said.
Italian police said Chloe Ayling was snatched last month by a group calling itself Black Death and is believed to have been drugged and transported in a bag to an isolated village near Turin, where she was held for six days as her captors tried to auction her online.
The 20-year-old was told people were watching her and she would be killed if she tried to flee, meaning she complied with what her captor asked her to do, her lawyer Francesco Pesce said.
He told Radio 4’s Today programme: “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.”
Mr Pesce dismissed suggestions Ms Ayling may have somehow been in on the kidnap, describing it as “evil”.
“Chloe had her passport detained by Italian police who would not let her return to the UK until she gave evidence at a pre-trial hearing on August 4th,” he said in a statement.
He added she was able to fly back to the UK on Sunday after attending the crime scene with police and her lawyer the day before.
There was no sign of Ms Ayling at her terraced home in Coulsdon, south London, on Monday.
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.”
A Polish man who lives in Britain was arrested on July 18th on suspicion of kidnap and extortion, state police said. Officials released a mugshot of the suspect, named as 30-year-old Lukasz Pawel Herba.
The UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) said it has been assisting with the investigation. A spokesman said: “The NCA and the East Midlands Special Operations Unit (Emsou) have been working closely with the Italian authorities since the kidnap was reported.
“NCA officers in Italy and specialists from our anti-kidnap and extortion unit are also providing support to the Polizia di Stato as part of the ongoing investigation.
“Computer equipment seized is being forensically examined.”
It is alleged the men tried to sell Ms Ayling online for more than $300,000 and demanded the model’s agent pay to secure her release.
She was kept handcuffed to furniture in the village of Borgial but was freed after six days and taken to the British Consulate in Milan, despite the ransom not being paid, police said.
Milan police spokesman Lorenzo Bucossi told reporters the group the suspect was allegedly working for offered “mercenary services” on the dark web.
Italian police said they are working with officials in Britain and Poland as they continue to investigate.