AN Italian court has convicted a Polish man of kidnapping 20-year-old British model for ransom.

The case, which saw Chloe Ayling lured to Milan with the promise of a modelling gig last July, raised the spectre of young women being auctioned off online on encrypted websites.

Lukasz Herba, 30, was jailed for 16 years and nine months at the Milan court.

According to prosecutors, after arriving in Milan, Ayling was drugged when she showed up at a mocked-up photographic studio. She was zipped inside a canvas bag and transported to a secluded farmhouse in neighbouring Piedmont.

There, she was held for six days before Herba released her at the British consulate, prosecutors said. In his initial statement to police, he said he did so out of sympathy for the fact she was a mother.

The lawyer for Ayling, Francesco Pesce, called it “quite an important verdict”.

He said he would seek €500,000 (£438,000) in compensation in separate proceedings, while conceding it was unlikely that Herba would be able to pay.

In his closing arguments, prosecutor Paolo Storari had demanded 16 years and eight months in prison for Herba, citing the possibility that Ayling could have died during the kidnapping.