British model kidnapped to sell as sex slave
Observer Online Desk
The man who allegedly kidnapped a British model in Milan and detained her for six days while trying to auction her as a sex slave has been described as a dangerous fantasist by Italian police.
Chloe Ayling, 20, was attacked on 11 July by two men as she attended an arranged photo shoot. She is believed to have been drugged and transported in a bag to Borgial, an isolated village near Turin, before being released on 17 July, Italian police said.
Lukasz Pawal Herba, 30, a Polish man who lives in Britain, was arrested on 18 July on suspicion of kidnap and extortion.
He claimed to be a paid killer for a group called the Black Death and allegedly tried to sell Ms Ayling online for more than $300,000 (£230,000) while demanding the model's agent pay to secure her safe release.
Authorities said as far as they know, no ransom was paid.
Then, on 17 July, Ms Ayling was dropped off at the British consulate in Milan. He is said to have handed her a business card advertising the Black Death group and asked her to publicise the group.
The next day, police arrested Herba, a Polish citizen with British residency.
Ms Ayling was kept handcuffed to furniture but was freed after six days and taken to the British Consulate in Milan, despite the ransom not being paid, police said.
It has been reported Herba demanded £50,000 upon her release and threatened to kill her if she told police about the incident.
Milan police officer Lorenzo Bucossi said Herba described himself as a "paid killer" for a mercenary organisation.
But officers quoted by local media described him as a "dangerous person with traces of mythomania". It also emerged Herba emailed The Daily Mirror two days into the ordeal apparently offering to sell the story of a "British model kidnapped by Russian mafia" along with photos of Ms Ayling, the Daily Telegraph reports.
Herba is also reported to have told police he had leukaemia and to have carried out the kidnapping to pay the cost of his treatment.
The "fantasist" is said to have sent text messages to his girlfriend while he was holding the model captive.
Herba's partner Natalia told the Daily Mail he said he was a successful businessman who was travelling to America to meet new clients for his international firm, which makes synthetic chicken feed.
He continued to text her while he allegedly held Ms Ayling captive and she only realised he was not in the US when a friend sent her a link to news about the kidnap with his picture.
The paper also reported that Herba had given a business card to someone in Birmingham with a Dark Web address for "MD" - the name Ms Ayling said she was told to use to address her captor.
Police are looking for at least one accomplice in connection with the kidnapping, believed to be Herba's brother Mikail.
According to Italian media reports, Ms Ayling said she was released when her captor discovered she had a small child. He said abducting a mother was against the rules of his shadowy criminal organisation.
It also emerged Ms Ayling went shoe shopping with her kidnapper during the ordeal. Her lawyer said she had been told people were watching her and would kill her if she attempted to escape.
Britain's National Crime Agency said British police are working with Italian authorities and searched a house in central England linked to Herba.