LONDON – The Latest on the kidnapping of a British model in Italy (all times local):
The chief suspect in the abduction of a British model has told investigators that he was drawn into the kidnap scheme unwittingly and did it to raise money to treat his leukemia.
According to a police deposition obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press, Lukasz Pawel Herba said he was hired by a group of Romanians to rent properties around Europe to store garments they were selling. He said it paid 500,000 pounds ($650,000).
Herba said he later met the model, Chloe Aylilng, in Paris where he posed as a photographer and she had come for a job, but when he discovered the Romanians intended to kidnap her he backed out.
He said the Romanians later kidnapped her independently, and that he came to aid her after seeing her on a deep-web auction site.
A British model who says she was kidnapped in Milan broke down in tears when confronted by investigators with a witness who said she had gone to buy shoes with the alleged kidnapper.
According to a transcript of Chloe Ayling's deposition obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press, the 20-year-old model initially said she was held at a remote farmhouse for six days without ever leaving.
But on the second day of questioning, she was confronted with witness testimony that said she and the main suspect had bought shoes for her the day before her release.
She told investigators that she couldn't give a "reasonable explanation" about why she had omitted the shoe shopping, but said she considered the alleged kidnapper to be her best chance at freedom.
The talent agent who sent British model Chloe Ayling to Italy, where she says she was kidnapped, has hit out at people questioning her story.
Phil Green of Supermodel Agency says, "I can assure everybody that it was real and very frightening for all concerned."
Green said Tuesday that Ayling went to Milan in July for a photo shoot that seemed legitimate. He said the person who made the booking had "a website, previous pictures, details of his studio, details of what the shoot was going to be, times, locations, fee — everything."
But the day after his 20-year-old client was due to return, Green says he received a ransom demand for $300,000.
Ayling was released at Britain's consulate in Milan on July 17. Police have arrested a suspect, Lukasz Pawel Herba.