‘There was a hand over my mouth, I couldn’t breathe’: Model Chloe Ayling breaks down in tears as she is grilled by Italian court over her kidnapping by a shadowy group called ‘Black Death’
- 21-year-old gave her evidence via video link from London to a Milan courtroom
- She broke down as she described being drugged by man wearing a balaclava
- Cross-examined by defence lawyers for Michal Herba, one of alleged kidanppers
- His brother Lukasz jailed last June after being found guilty of kidnapping Ayling
- Ayling will face accusations she helped stage kidnapping to boost her career
Model Chloe Ayling broke down today as she told an Italian of the moment her kidnappers told her she was going to be sold as a sex slave.
The teary 21-year-old appeared before a court in Milan via video link from London for the first time to be quizzed about her abduction.
She was expected to face accusations that she helped stage the kidnapping to boost her modelling career.
But within minutes of starting to give her evidence she broke down in tears as she described being grabbed and drugged by a man wearing a balaclava who said he was part of a shadowy gang called Black Death.
Chloe Ayling (in green) gives evidence via video link to a Milan courtroom from Westminster Magistrates Court in London
A court usher handed her a tissue as she covered her face with her hand and gently sobbed.
Clearly distressed, Ayling said: ‘I tried to get away. There was a hand over my mouth and I could not breathe. I was trying to get the hand of my face, but I could not fight much longer.’
Ayling, from Coulsdon, Surrey, was lured to Milan for a fake photoshoot before being drugged, handcuffed and bundled into a suitcase during a six-day ordeal in July 2017.
She was driven over 100 miles to a remote rented farmhouse in the Piedmont region where the bothers claimed they worked for a gang called Black Death.
They told Ayling unless a ransom of £265,000 was paid in crypto currency Bitcoin she would be sold as a sex slave to the Middle East.
The model was today giving evidence at the trial of Michal Herba, 38, who is accused of helping his brother Lukasz with the abduction.
She was giving evidence at the trial of Michal Herba (pictured) who is accused of helping his brother kidnap the model
Lukasz was jailed last June for her kidnap and Ayling was not called on at the trial.
Ayling was told she did not have to give evidence at his trial – despite Herba’s claim that she had come up with the idea of being kidnapped to help boost her glamour modelling career.
But lawyers for Michal, who is charged with same offence of kidnap, successfully petitioned the court to force Ayling to be cross–examined and asked about her alleged role in the kidnap.
The model had refused to attend in person saying she was too afraid to face her alleged kidnapper, but was quizzed via a video link from Westminster Magistrates Court in London.
The Herba brothers (Michal, pictured) claim Ayling came up with the idea of being kidnapped to help boost her glamour modelling career
After almost an hour of technical difficulties in setting up the video in London, Ayling appeared on screen.
Dressed in green top, black jacket and with her with hair piled in a bun, the model sat in front of a computer screen at a desk in the London courtroom.
Proceedings were held up as the judge in Milan was unhappy with the camera being so far away from the model making her barely visible on the two TV screens set up for the jury in the Milan courtroom.
After she moved forward and the camera zoomed in on her he allowed the proceedings to continue.
Michal Herba sat alongside his lawyer listening intently to Ayling give her version of events.
She told the court: ‘ On 11 July, 2017, I left my room at the hotel and a taxi driver drove me to the studio. When I arrived to the studio it was 8.45am.
‘Since it was very early and I didn’t know which door to enter the studio, I found one but I didn’t know it was the wrong one.
‘Then I called the contact name in the contact email I had received and someone answered. The one who answered told me to come in if I wanted.
Michal’s brother Lukasz Herba (pictured) was jailed last June after being found guilty of kidnapping the then 20-year-old
‘I said it was locked, but he said, “No, it’s open.” So I tried to open another door and managed to enter.
‘Once inside the corner, I heard silence and I didn’t see anyone. There were two doors – one on the left and one at the end of the corridor.
‘The door to the left said ‘study’ in capital letters. It was a little open, I opened it completely to be able to enter, but at that moment someone touched me from behind.
‘Someone put an arm around his neck and covered my mouth with his other hand. Since they had closed my mouth, I couldn’t breathe and tried to take that hand off my face. Then another man came in, wearing a balaklava and trying to grab my right arm.
‘I tried to resist, but since I had my hand on my face, I couldn’t get any strength. So this person injected me with something in his right wrist. Immediately I felt dizzy and fell to the ground, I fainted.
Ayling said she was told by Luckas Herba that he was a leader of a group known as ‘Black Death’ and that she had been kidnapped to be sold as a sex slave.
‘He said there would be an auction and the opening bid was $300,’ Ayling told the court.
‘I said that my family would not be able to pay 300,000 euros, but that Phil (her agent) could do it. Then I gave three names that could have paid that amount.’
Asked if Herba organised auctions for kidnapped girls, she replied: ‘Yes, for people in the Middle East. He told me, “the younger the person, the more he is paid. If she is a virgin even better, it costs much more.”‘
Ayling told the court Herba did not agree with her kidnapping but to secure her release he would have to pay half of the £300,000 ransom to the Romanians who ran the Black Death group.
Lawyers for Michal successfully petitioned the court to force Ayling (pictured) to be cross–examined and asked about her role in the kidnap
Herba said he he did not have that sort of money. Questioned about the ‘Black Death Group’ Ayling said Herba had boasted that he had killed people by poisoning them
‘Lucasz said that the group also dealt with other things such as killing people.’ she said.
She began giving her evidence and describing the events of the morning of her kidnap in 2017.
But almost as soon as she began to speak the proceedings were interrupted by the Italian judge Giuseppe Fazio who was unhappy about how the questions were being interpreted.
The former Celebrity Big Brother contestant told the court about the day she was kidnapped and described how she took a taxi from her hotel to a studio where she was supposed to be taking part in a photo shoot.
She said after struggling with her alleged kidnapper she was injected with a drug into her wrist and passed out.
‘After I woke up I was in a restricted space. It was a canvas bag or duffel bag. There was tape over my mouth.
‘I did not know where I was, took me while to come around after the drug and heard the car engine.’
Lukasz Herba was found guilty a year ago of kidnapping Ayling and holding her hostage for six days.
The model refused to attend in person saying she was too afraid to face her alleged kidnapper
The Polish born national had claimed that Ayling was a willing participant in the abduction as she wanted to boost her modelling career.
Doubts about Ayling’s story surfaced after they were captured on CCTV film walking hand in hand in the remote Italian village where she claimed to have been held.
After the verdict Ayling said she had been vindicated – but was quick to seize on her fame by joining the cast of Celebrity Big Brother.
She also wrote a book about her experience, but when modelling work failed to flood in turned to working for a £2 a minute sex chat line.
The 21-year-old is still linked to the Studio 66 site where callers can talk to Ayling by paying the premium rate.
At Herba’s trial prosecutors said he was working in tandem with his younger brother Michal.
Ayling was quick to seize on her fame by joining the cast of Celebrity Big Brother a year after the kidnapping
They had lured Ayling to Milan with the promise of a photo shoot but on arriving at a studio was drugged with Ketamin and bundled into a canvas bag.
In her witness statement Ayling said she did not try to escape as she feared for her life.
She was freed unharmed after six days when Herba dropped her off at the British Embassy in Milan. He was arrested almost immediately as he tried to flee.
Herba presented a pathetic figure at his trial as he repeatedly changed his story over the kidnapping.
His lawyer Katia Kolakowska had wanted to question Ayling, but a judge ruled it out saying she had made a detailed witness statement. Herba is appealing against his sentence.