Security guard behind Holly Willoughby plot ‘is a dangerous man’

A security guard who plotted to kidnap, rape and murder Holly Willoughby is a “dangerous man” who was “able to overpower women and cause fear and compliance in them”, a prosecutor said.

Gavin Plumb, of Harlow in Essex, had amassed a restraint kit of items including handcuffs, a ball gag and metal cable ties, as well as buying chloroform.

The 37-year-old was scouring online forums for potential accomplices when he unwittingly shared details of his plan with a US undercover police officer, who contacted UK police via the FBI.

Nicola Rice, a specialist prosecutor at the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said Plumb is a “dangerous man”, citing his previous convictions and his research – into Ms Willoughby and ways to carry out his plot.

Plumb tried to kidnap two air hostesses off a train in 2006, and in 2008 he attempted to falsely imprison two 16-year-old girls at a shop.

“I think what sets him apart is the fact that he had carried out that research, that he had formulated this kit but also his previous convictions in 2006 and 2008 which demonstrate that he was able to overpower women and cause fear and compliance in them,” said Ms Rice.

“So he’s a dangerous man and we’re really pleased that we have managed to secure these convictions.”

She said that the undercover officer’s “diligence in monitoring these platforms” meant he was able to “locate a chat involving Gavin Plumb and realised that the information he was providing was a real threat of harm to the victim”.

Gavin Plumb court case
Gavin Plumb was arrested at his flat in Harlow after the FBI contacted UK police (Essex Police/PA)

“The role of the US undercover officer was relatively unusual,” said Ms Rice.

“Certainly I’ve not ever dealt with an undercover officer from the United States.

“I have from the United Kingdom.

“So that was unusual for me to deal with that and we had to obviously liaise with international counterparts to ensure that we could get his evidence and to ensure that it was allowed before a UK court.

“That was quite unusual in this case.”

She continued: “If it wasn’t for the actions of the United States covert enforcement officer then Gavin Plumb would have continued to engage in conversations with others and plan with others to carry out these attacks and it’s unimaginable what could have happened.”

The prosecution sought to show that Plumb was “more than just a fantasist”, Ms Rice said.

“That he was planning and was in advanced planning and wanted to carry out these attacks with the assistance of someone else,” she said.

Gavin Plumb court case
Gavin Plumb had amassed a kit, including handcuffs and cable ties, as part of his kidnap plot (CPS/PA)

“I think we were able to demonstrate by the evidence that we had more than just chat online.

“We had him getting together a kit which would enable him to carry out the kidnap so he had shackles, handcuffs, rope, hundreds of cable ties, metal cable ties and he had purchased the chloroform.

“He had researched things online, where she lived. He’d researched about imitation firearms.

“So all of those things made us able to present to a jury the strongest evidence possible to show that this went beyond a fantasy chat and went into reality.”

She said Plumb was “intending to encourage others to assist him in carrying out an attack on the home address of the victim in this case, to break into her home”.

“He had purchased the chloroform to subdue her within her home and to subdue her husband and then he was planning to remove her from the location, take her to a different location and subject her to some horrific acts of sexual and violent abuse,” said Ms Rice.

She said that the CPS “keep all victims of all crimes, particularly cases of this nature, informed of what is happening in the case and any developments”.

Gavin Plumb court case
Gavin Plumb was taken into custody by Essex Police (Essex Police/PA)

“I think you’ll probably appreciate and understand as a woman particularly how terrifying it must be if police officers turn up at your home address and issue you with a threat of harm and tell you that your life is at immediate risk of danger,” Ms Rice said.

“That must have been terrifying.

“Hopefully the victim can be reassured by these convictions that she is safe, he is going to be in custody for some time and that other women are safe from this dangerous individual.”