A man has been found guilty of kidnapping British model Chloe Ayling, with an Italian court sentencing him to 16 years and nine months in prison.
The 20-year-old had said she was taken against her will in Milan last summer after believing she was attending a photo shoot.
Ayling’s lawyer, Francesco Pesce, previously said she has been terrorised, received death threats and is upset people do not believe her.
In a statement released today through her agent, she said she feels “vindicated”.
During the trial, police said Ayling had been drugged, handcuffed and transported in a suitcase.
Mr Pesce said the model, from south London, had suffered mental and physical abuse during the six-day ordeal.
Lukasz Herba, 30, claimed Ayling had agreed to the scheme to boost her career.
The mum-of-one stirred further controversy when she posted a topless picture online hours after an Italian court heard she was pictured holding hands with her kidnapper.
Ayling put the photo on her Instagram, showing her clutching a duvet in a risque snap.
The court heard how images appeared to show her and Herba strolling through the streets of Turin together.
He was also said to have demanded 50,000 Bitcoins for her release.
Ayling said she was drugged and bundled into a car by Herba, and only released days later after going clothes shopping.
There has been speculation the kidnap was a publicity stunt.
Pictures were shown to the Italian court as jurors were also told that the pair had been in touch on Facebook since 2015.
Herba was accused of snatching and drugging Chloe, stuffing her in a black bag and holding her captive in a mountain hideout while claiming to be ‘a mid-level hitman’ with a dark web mafia called Black Death.
Chloe turned up to a fashion shoot in Milan last July but was instead injected with ketamine, stripped, photographed and advertised online to be auctioned for Middle-Eastern buyers, the court heard.
But further doubts arose about Chloe’s story after it emerged she also shared a bed with Herba.
Commenting on the footage during the trial, Pesce claimed Ayling was under duress: “You can tell she is not happy to be holding his hand.
“She was probably just trying to keep him calm.”
Herba’s computer records showed that Chloe accepted his Facebook friendship request, in March 2015, and the next month sent Herba two messages.
During the trial, footage was played to the court showing Ayling and police looking around the farmhouse where she was held captive.
Dressed in blue shorts, a vest top and forensic gloves, the model walked cops around the scene in the clip.
In more police footage displayed at the trial, Ayling showed investigators a spot near a doorway where she claims she was grabbed from behind during the kidnapping.
She said she was “about to open” the door when she was attacked.
Adrian Sington, who represents Ms Ayling at Kruger Cowne, issued a statement after the verdict on his client’s behalf.
He said: “This has been an incredible burden on her shoulders for the last year in the face of media criticism of her motivation and this is vindication – her story is true.
“It means now she can get on with her life. It’s hard if you’re being painted in the press as a liar and now she’s able to be able to say, ‘I know it’s a bizarre story but it’s a true one’.
“One of the difficulties with a psychopath and a narcissist, as Mr Herba is, is that he behaves in such a way that it’s almost impossible to believe that someone could be so stupid and so, in some ways, it’s not surprising that the media found Chloe’s story difficult to believe.
“Let’s not forget she was bundled into a suitcase, injected with ketamine in the boot of a car and thought she was going to die.”