London: A British model has described how she was drugged, handcuffed, gagged and put in a bag in the boot of a car by kidnappers who then tried to sell her as a sex slave in an online auction.
Chloe Ayling, 20, has given an account of her week-long ordeal after she was taken by balaclava-clad men and chained to a chest of drawers in a remote Italian farmhouse.
As she returned to Britain on Sunday, Miss Ayling, who works as a glamour model and has posed for page three in a tabloid newspaper, said that she feared for her life “second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour”.
Her captors claimed to be part of an online organisation called “Black Death” and threatened to sell her on the “deep web” if her agent failed to pay a ransom of $US300,000 ($350,000).
She was told that she would probably by trafficked to the Middle East where, once the man who bought her bored of her, she would be passed on to someone else or fed to tigers.
Lukasz Pawel Herba, 30, a Polish national who lives in the UK, has been arrested by police and confessed to the kidnapping which investigators described as an elaborate plot that involved months of planning.
His home in Oldbury, in the West Midlands, has been raided by officers.
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Miss Ayling told Italian police that her agent had booked her a photo shoot in Milan on July 11 but when she turned up at the studio she was attacked.
“A person wearing black gloves came from behind and put one hand on my neck and one on my mouth to stop me from screaming,” she said.
“A second person wearing a black balaclava gave me an injection in my right forearm. I think I lost consciousness. When I woke up I was wearing a pink bodysuit and the socks I am wearing now.
“I realised I was in the boot of a car with my wrists and ankles handcuffed, adhesive tape on my mouth. I was inside a bag and was only able to breathe through a small hole.”
As she screamed for help she was driven 170 kilometres to the tiny hamlet of Borgial near the French border where they forced her to lie on the floor next to a chest of drawers and handcuffed her hands and feet to the legs, leaving her “totally immobilised”.
“They watched me, they stopped me from fleeing and they threatened to kill me if I did,” she said as she revealed that the four men involved all referred to each other by initials.
“I didn’t want to eat until July 14 as I was so stressed,” she said. “I didn’t trust what I was being offered.”
They had taken compromising photographs of her while she was unconscious which were posted on the dark web with the view to auctioning her off.
However, one of them confessed to her that they had made a mistake seizing her because she was the mother of a young child.
He said it was against the “rules” of his organisation and his superiors were angry. Afterwards they removed the cuffs from her feet and allowed her to move around the farmhouse, she said.
The captors demanded £270,000 from her agent but eventually dropped agreed to accept £50,000 and Herba took her to the British Consulate in Milan on July 17 where he was arrested.
The day before the pair had been seen in a shop together buying shoes, and Miss Ayling told police that she “made him believe we could be more intimate when the incident ended” so that she could escape.
Since her release Miss Ayling has been helping Italian police, including taking them to the scene of her ordeal where the memories cause her to “shed a tear”, according to her lawyer.
Under a section named “Trafficking” on the Black Death’s dark website they advertise women for sale with their measurements and an assurance that they have been checked by a doctor for any sexually transmitted diseases.
Miss Ayling said that Herba told her three women a week were auctioned and he had earned $US15 million in the past five years from the sales, with most destined for Arab countries.
He told her: “When the buyer gets tired of the girl, he can give them to others or if she’s no longer of interest she is ‘tiger meat’.”
She told police she had met Herba a few months earlier on a shoot that was aborted in Paris.
During that trip she was caught up in a terror incident as she was walking down the Champs Elysees at the moment a policeman was shot dead in an attack claimed by Isil, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Speaking on the doorstep of her family home in south London on Sunday night, Miss Ayling 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.”
The Telegraph London