Court video shows kidnapped model revisiting scenes of crime
MILAN (AP) — Video of a British model retracing her movements from a city studio where she was allegedly grabbed to a farmhouse where she was held for six days was played Monday at the trial in Italy of a Polish man charged in her kidnapping for ransom.
In the video, 20-year-old Chloe Ayling walks investigators into the supposed photographer’s studio in Milan where her agent had arranged a modeling job. She signaled to police a spot near a doorway where she said she was grabbed from behind.
Images showed Ayling’s suitcase, phone and clothing that were found by police investigating her disappearance last July.
According to prosecutors, Ayling was drugged at the studio, zipped inside a canvas bag and transported to a farmhouse near Turin, where she was held captive.
Only two suspects have been identified in the case. A 30-year-old Pole, Lukasz Herba, who was arrested after releasing Ayling at the British consulate in Milan, is being tried for the kidnapping. Italian prosecutors are seeking to try Herba’s brother, who is in Britain.
Investigator Gianluca Simontacchi told the court that Ayling broke down in tears as they reached the farmhouse, and had to be calmed by her lawyer before being able to continue.
Inside the building, she pointed out a piece of furniture where she said she had been cuffed by her hands and feet overnight the first night. She then showed a bedroom, where she said later she shared a bed with her kidnapper; a photograph entered into evidence showed a blanket folded to create a boundary down the middle of the bed.
Finally, she showed investigators where she accompanied her kidnapper to buy food and a pair of sneakers in a nearby town before her release.
In court testimony, the grocery store owner’s son said that Herba had come to the store several times to buy fruit and vegetables, and that Ayling waited outside once.
A neighbor of the farmhouse where she was held testified that he had seen Ayling with Herba at least twice, and from a distance that it looked like they were a couple.
Ayling’s lawyer, Francesco Pesce, dismissed any notion that a video showing Ayling walking hand-in-hand with Herba shown at an earlier hearing cast any doubt on the kidnapping allegation.
“She was holding hands with Mr. Herba but she looked, at least in my opinion, she looked frightened, quite scared,” he said.
A police toxicologist testified that tests of Ayling’s hair indicated the presence of the drug ketamin, under the influence of which one remains conscious but disassociated from reality. Napolitano said there was a tiny hole on Ayling’s inner wrist consistent with an injection, but she said there was no way of knowing precisely when the drug had been administered.
“It corresponds perfectly to the picture we have of Miss Ayling she said,” showing a photograph of the model with her eyes half-closed, pupils dilated, that allegedly was circulated on the internet.
Herba’s lawyer, Bozena Katia Kolakowska, said his client would testify at the next hearing, and that he is expected to say that the kidnapping was a ploy to give Ayling’s modeling career a boost.