Chloe Ayling, the glamour model who was kidnapped in Milan and held captive for six days, has told Eamonn Holmes she doesn’t want to be known as “the kidnap model” forever.
Appearing on the Drivetime show with Holmes and Saira Khan, Ms Ayling recounted the ordeal and said she “blocked out” the people who accused her of making it all up.
“It was hurtful [that people didn’t believe me], I think it’s because I didn’t show emotion in my interviews,” she said.
“I wasn’t crying when I got home, I was just happy to be home. I was just so overwhelmed by it all. I’ve never liked crying in front of people, that’s just how I’ve always been.”
'Attacked from behind'
Ms Ayling’s horror began on July 10 2017, when she flew to Milan for a photoshoot.
“I walked in [to the studio] and it was silent, which was a bit weird. That’s where I noticed something was off,” the 20-year-old remembered.
“I walked around the corner saw the door that said ‘studio’ and put my hand on it, and that’s when I was attacked from behind.
“It all happened very quickly, there was an arm around my neck and another hand on my mouth to stop me from screaming.
“Another guy ran to the front of me with a syringe. He was pulling at my arm and I was trying to fight away because I didn’t want it to go into my arm, but the guy behind was holding me so tightly I could barely breathe, I couldn’t do anything.
“I woke up in the boot of a car in a black rubber holdall.”
Formed a 'bond' with kidnapper
At the trial in Milan last month, Lukasz Herba, 30, was found guilty of abduction and trying to secure a ransom over the dark web. His brother Michal was extradited to Italy last month to face similar charges. The brothers are of Polish origin but were based in the UK.
The court heard that Herba drugged her with ketamine and bundled her into a holdall in the boot of a car.
“I was so drugged at that point so I couldn’t work out where I was," says Ms Ayling of waking up in the car.
“Then I felt the restriction on my face and managed to get the tape off, then I felt I had handcuffs on my wrists and ankles, there was a hole near my mouth to breathe so I started putting my hands through to figure out where I was.”
Herba told Ms Ayling that he was “the good guy trying to save her from the Romanians”, she claimed, and that he told her they’d both die if she tried to escape.
Ms Ayling was able to form a “bond” with him and persuade him to release her.
“From the second day when we shared a bed [she confirmed to Holmes that they “just” shared a bed], that’s when we started to talk more, and I saw he was opening up more. At first he was very cold. When he started opening up, I started asking questions, he’d respond, and as the days went on that’s how we started to form a stronger relationship.”
Herba finally dropped Ms Ayling off at the British Consulate, after taking her into the village to buy shoes as she’d had all of her clothes taken away.
Ms Ayling, who’s written a book, Kidnapped, about her experiences, does still model, she said, but only for people she knows.
“I left my ex-agent when I got back to the UK, because he failed to do the checks. I still do shoots but only with people I’ve worked with before and I trust,” she said.
“The first few months [after the kidnapping] I stayed up all night because I was scared something would happen. I was so stressed about it being a massive organisation and people being out there to get me, then when I heard that’s not the reality of it, I was so happy and reassured.”
Asked if she worried about Herba being released from jail, she said she didn’t think about it. “16 years is a long time so I don’t really think about that,” she said, before explaining why she chose to go public with her story.
“I don’t want to be known as the kidnap model forever. I thought [publicity] worked for me and talking about it did help me. Now after the verdict people can believe what I’m saying.”