Bizarre defence lines lead jury to convict Holly Willoughby kidnap plotter

The bizarre lines of defence of a security guard who masterminded a plot to kidnap, rape and murder Holly Willoughby led prosecutors to accuse him of “making it up as he goes along”.

Jurors unanimously convicted Gavin Plumb of soliciting murder and inciting rape and kidnap at Chelmsford Crown Court.

Here, the PA news agency looks at how the prosecution unpicked the 37-year-old’s defence:

– A mere fantasy

Plumb attempted to convince jurors that his plot to kidnap, rape and murder the TV presenter was a “mere fantasy”.

Prosecutor Alison Morgan KC pointed the jury to “boring details” about how a potential accomplice “can’t get time off until early February so when he gets them off we can get them off as well”.

Suggesting his plans could not be just a “sexually gratifying” fantasy, Ms Morgan said: “What’s sexually gratifying about booking dates and times off work?”

She added: “These are boring details, they’re actually really boring, but they’re important as they show real planning.”

– Chloroform carpet cleaner

Plumb told the court he bought two bottles of chloroform to clean a “large stain next to my fridge” on his carpet.

Ms Morgan said the defendant had looked up the “medical properties of chloroform” and “how long does chloroform knock you out for?”.

She told jurors: “Not: ‘How good is chloroform at getting a terrible stain off my carpet?’”

The prosecutor added: “Not the most obvious form of carpet cleaner, you may think.”

– Previous kidnap attempts a ‘cry for help’

Plumb claimed his previous offences of attempted kidnap and false imprisonment were a “cry for help” as he “needed to get out” of a toxic relationship.

Ms Morgan asked the defendant what it felt like “when you put that tape around the wrists of that girl” in a shop in 2008, to which Plumb replied: “I was scared.”

He said “yes” when asked if he looked at the 16-year-old’s face and said “she was scared”, but replied “no” when asked: “Did you stop when you saw she was terrified?”

Ms Morgan told jurors: “They (his previous convictions) tell you that this defendant knew what it would take to terrify and overpower a woman. He was also someone who had chosen to do this for real, not just as a fantasy.”

– BDSM kit bought for rekindling of ex-partner relationship

Plumb told jurors he bought a “BDSM kit” in 2014, including a set of handcuffs, because he thought he was going to “rekindle my relationship with my ex-partner”.

Pressed by Ms Morgan to name the ex-partner, Plumb said: “I’m not going to name her in court, it’s not fair on her.”

He repeated his position when told by the prosecutor that he could write the name on a piece of paper so the woman could be asked about this.

Plumb said “no” when the prosecutor suggested the kit was “about the Holly Willoughby attack”.

– Too overweight to carry out attack

The defendant told jurors his “between 25-30 stone weight” would have meant there was “more chance of tripping over the step walking down” than jumping over Ms Willoughby’s garden wall after an attack.

He said that at one point, his weight was “ballooning to dangerous levels”, adding that he reached “35 stone and I was housebound”.

Ms Morgan told jurors that when considering that line of defence, they would want to take into account that he was able to work as a security guard at the time he was going to carry out the kidnap.

After being asked whether the fact Plumb is “significantly overweight” would have affected the credibility of his plan to invade Ms Willoughby’s home, the undercover officer who foiled his plot replied: “No, it did not.”

– Researching rape to ‘support’ a friend

Plumb said he had read articles about “what it’s like to be raped” in order to “support” a female friend.

Ms Morgan accused the defendant of being “two-faced” to his friend as he was simultaneously telling others online of his “ultimate fantasy” to kidnap and rape Ms Willoughby.

He replied: “That was my private life. My private life and discussing with my friend were two totally different things.”

– Refusing to hand Pin number over due to lack of police trust

Plumb said he refused to initially hand over his phone Pin number to police because he did not trust them.

Ms Morgan asked the defendant: “What was it about the police that means you can’t give them the Pin number?”

Plumb replied: “I’m not going to discuss it as it would bring up stuff with my ex-partner.”

Ms Morgan said Plumb “believed if they (the police) got into that chat (with the undercover officer David Nelson) they would see what you and David Nelson were going to do”.