Holly Willoughby speaks out after security guard Gavin Plumb guilty of kidnap, rape and murder plot

Holly Willoughby speaks out after security guard Gavin Plumb guilty of kidnap, rape and murder plot

Holly Willoughby has thanked the jury in Gavin Plumb’s trial for “ensuring that justice was done” as the security guard was found guilty of plotting to kidnap, rape and murder the TV presenter.

She said in a statement released after the verdit on Thursday: “As women we should not be made to feel unsafe going about our daily lives and in our own homes.

“I will forever be grateful to the undercover police officer who understood the imminent threat, and to the Metropolitan and Essex police forces for their swift response.

“Thank you to the Crown Prosecution Service, the Rt Hon Mr Justice Murray, Alison Morgan KC, the members of the jury and all involved in this case for ensuring that justice was done and that the defendant will not be able to harm any more women.

“I would also like to commend the bravery of his previous victims for speaking up at the time. Without their bravery this conviction may not have been possible.”

Plumb, 37, spent years fantasising about abducting the TV host at her family home, taking her away to a secluded dungeon, and subjecting her to repeated rapes and torture.

Damning online chat revealed Plumb’s plan would end with Ms Willoughby’s murder, with her body being dumped in a lake.

Plumb, a shopping centre security guard who spent much of his life online and once weighed 35 stone, insisted his words were meaningless – the “ramblings” of a lonely fantasist.

But a jury at Chelmsford crown court on Thursday convicted him of a genuine attempt to carry out the warped plot.

Screengrab from police body-worn video footage of the arrest of Gavin Plumb (Essex Police/PA Media)
Screengrab from police body-worn video footage of the arrest of Gavin Plumb (Essex Police/PA Media)

Damning chat logs revealed Plumb hunted online for a “crew” to help with a “home invasion” at the former This Morning host’s family home.

He planned to use choloroform to subdue Ms Willoughby and her husband Dan, restrain them with handcuffs and cable ties, and take her away to his own flat in Harlow, Essex.

Among vile and sexist messages, Plumb laid out his plans in detail – to repeatedly rape Ms Willoughby and force her to film a video saying she had consented.

Plumb then said her throat would be slit, her body cleaned with bleach, and then she would be dumped in a lake.

However he revealed the plans to an undercover US police officer, leading to his arrest and charge in October last year.

A jury today convicted Plumb of soliciting murder and encouraging the commission of indictable offences of rape and kidnap.

He could now face a life sentence.

In the course of a nine-day trial, Plumb’s own words in WhatsApp messages came back to haunt him.

Gavin Plumb was described as a ‘dangerous man’ (CPS/PA Media)
Gavin Plumb was described as a ‘dangerous man’ (CPS/PA Media)

“Getting her has been my ultimate fantasy for way too long,” he wrote in 2022.

“I’m now at the point that fantasy isn’t enough anymore. I want the real thing.”

When the undercover officer appeared keen to fly to the UK to carry out the attack, Plumb excitedly wrote “it’s really happening”.

Using the moniker ‘BigBear’, Plumb belonged to a messaging group called “Abduct Lovers”, and as long ago as 2011 was searching online for how to kidnap celebrities.

Plumb had more than ten thousand images in a folder on his phone labelled ‘Holly’, including deep fake pornographic pictures of Ms Willoughby, and his internet history revealed trawls for explicit images and news stories of rape and abduction.

He dubbed the Dancing on Ice host his “celebrity crush”, and talked in terms too graphic to be published about his sexual urges.

Plumb’s barrister, Sasha Wass KC, argued Plumb was too obese to carry out elements of his plan, such as clambering over a wall around Ms Willoughby’s property.

It was a “dark and twisted fantasy”, she argued, suggesting Plumb was nothing more than “an isolated, lonely individual who lived out his fantasy life online” and would never have brought the words into real life.

But jurors were presented with images of Plumb’s collection of BDSM items, including handcuffs, leg restraints, and gags.

Photo issued by the Crown Prosecution Service of items showed in the court case of Gavin Plumb (CPS/PA Wire)
Photo issued by the Crown Prosecution Service of items showed in the court case of Gavin Plumb (CPS/PA Wire)

He had researched Ms Willoughby’s property, and acquired details of her typical daily routine.

In chilling voice notes, he told a possible accomplice of an “abandoned building” being considered for the plot.

“We’re gonna go and do stakeout and bang job done, shits going down as it stands,” he said.

When arrested, Plumb had a bottle labelled ‘chloroform’, and he had laid out the plot to the undercover officer: “So we’ll jump the outer wall, break in chloroform, both her and her husband. Tie both up with zip ties and gag both.

“Take her out of the house and take her out in her car. Dump it and get rid of her phone etc and anything she can be tracked with.”

He outlined his plan to repeatedly rape Ms Willoughby, before they would “get rid” of her.

To counter his claims that this was just a fantasy, prosecutors had a trump card – his past convictions for real-life attempts to kidnap women.

In 2006 Plumb – while working as a parking warden – approached a female cabin crew member on a train and handed her a note which read: “I have got a gun. All you have to do is keep quiet. Do what I say. So just stand up and get off at the next stop with me.

“Don’t cry or make a sound. Don’t stop me from touching you because I won’t hurt you. If you do all of this, no one will get hurt but if you don’t I am going to shoot you and myself and everyone else.”

The woman broke down in tears and Plumb fled, but he carried out a similar approach two days later, this time posing as a police officer and while in possession of an imitation gun.

Plumb was given a suspended prison sentence, and was jailed for 18 months in 2008 for a third incident, when he tried to tie up two 16-year-old girls.

Plumb, by then working in Woolworths, led the girls to an isolated area of the store in Harlow and started to bind one of them by the wrists. But the girls were able to escape and raise the alarm.

In court, he claimed the incidents were part of a “cry for help” as he tried to leave a “toxic” relationship.

But prosecutor Alison Morgan KC told the court: “He has terrified, subdued, threatened and detained real women against their will.

“He has carried weapons for that purpose. He has carried ropes for that purpose.

“Real people exist in the world now who were threatened and touched by this man and he was looking … to learn how to avoid those mistakes again.

“Looking to make sure that he didn’t fall into the errors that led to women being able to get away from him.”

Plumb, of Harlow, Essex, denied soliciting murder, incitement to rape and incitement to kidnap.

“Gavin Plumb is a dangerous man who plotted unspeakable violence against one of the nation’s most familiar faces”, said Nicola Rice, a specialist prosecutor for the CPS.

“Despite his attempts to pass himself off as a harmless fantasist, the prosecution persuaded the jury that Plumb posed a very real threat.

“The chilling details of his plans were laid bear with the help of an undercover officer from the US who alerted the FBI to the threat, and the seriousness of Plumb’s scheme was exposed when the prosecution successfully applied to tell the jury about Plumb’s previous convictions.

“I hope his conviction brings some comfort to Holly Willoughby and her family and shows others that the Crown Prosecution Service will always seek the strongest possible charges against those who plot violence against women.”

Ms Willoughby was not called as a witness in the case, and waived her right to anonymity so that the full extent of Plumb’s offending could be properly reported.