ROME: An Italian court on Monday found a Polish man guilty of kidnapping young British model Chloe Ayling in an elaborate plot which gained worldwide attention.
Ms Ayling said in her original statement to police that she was held captive and never left the remote farmhouse dwelling where she was being detained.
After her release Ms Ayling said she was taken after turning up at a property in Milan for a modelling job.
He eventually alleged that Ayling had gone with him willingly - a claim Ayling strenuously denied - and that she was complicit in the plan all along. "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 freaky story but it's a true one'". They said Herba had not been seen for around three weeks before the kidnapping in July 2017.
Besides the prison sentence, the court also ordered Herba to pay an initial 60,000 euros in damages to Ayling.
Ms Ayling's lawyer, Francesco Pesce, emphasised the importance of the verdict and said she was still considering possible civil action in British courts against media outlets that suggested she had lied to become famous.
In August 2017 model Chloe Ayling went to what she believed was a photo shoot in Milan and instead was kidnapped and nearly sold into the sex slavery. In his initial statement to police, he said he let her go out of sympathy for her role as a mother.
He said he was paid £500,000, found out the Romanians meant to kidnap her, and backed out of the plan.
British model Chloe Ayling, who made headlines around the world a year ago, claimed to have been drugged and kidnapped after being lured to Milan on the false promise of attending a fashion shoot.
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Herba claimed during his Milan trial that she agreed to the scheme to boost her career.
Herba maintained his innocence throughout the trial, saying he was never violent with Ms Ayling.
Investigators said the behaviour she exhibited during her capture was consistent with the effects of the drug. "But it certainly was not as Chloe has described".
"I was in love, and I was hoping that once her fame took off that she would repay me with feelings and we would share the money".
Italian prosecutors are seeking the brother's extradition from the UK.
The prosecutor also cited Herba's purchase of two ski masks - Ayling said her kidnappers were wearing them when they freed her from the canvas bag - and the exchange of notes with his brother about cleaning the vehicle trunk well to make sure there were no traces of her hair.
Her lawyer said the plot was to sell her for sex in an online auction unless a ransom was paid.
"This has been an incredible burden on her shoulders for the past year in the face of media criticism of her motivation and this is vindication - her story is true", Ms Ayling's representative Adrian Sington said.
Jill Lawless contributed from London.