Harlow man sobs as jury finds him guilty of Holly Willoughby kidnap plot


A “disgusting” and “horrendous” Essex man has been found guilty of plotting to kidnap, rape and murder ITV presenter Holly Willoughby after sharing sordid, degrading and foul messages about her for years. Gavin Plumb sobbed in the dock when a jury of eight women and four men convicted him of soliciting the murder of the 43-year-old former This Morning presenter.

Plumb, 37, of Potters Field, Harlow, claimed his degrading messages shared online where he made plans to take Ms Willoughby from her home and carry out a “violent sexual attack” on her were “just chat” and he would never have gone through with it in real life.

But the jury at Chelmsford Crown Court found him guilty on all three counts following a trial, with unanimous verdicts being returned today on soliciting murder, and encouraging or assisting the offences of rape and kidnap.

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Plumb cried as the verdicts were delivered. Judge Mr Justice Murray thanked the jury for their service and discharged them. A sentencing date has been set for Friday, July 12 and Plumb will be remanded in custody until his sentencing hearing.

Plumb’s defence team argued during the trial that he was an “isolated and lonely” man who “lived a fantasy in his online world”, saying it was “dark and twisted” but “just a fantasy, nonetheless”. Plumb gave evidence saying he had “no ill feelings for Holly Willoughby whatsoever”, and that his degrading messages about attacking her were “just chat”.

He said it was “ hugely regrettable ” that his fantasy had made it to the public domain, but insisted his fantasy “would never work” in real life, and he never expected people he was talking to online to come and take part. The court previously heard these chats included an undercover police officer in the USA, who raised the alarm about Plumb with the UK authorities.

As part of his online chats, the defendant sent a potential accomplice a video of restraint “kit” items laid out on a bed. The jury was played Plumb’s footage of the items, which included ankle shackles, a ball gag, rope, metal cable ties and handcuffs.

The court was told that in a subsequent voice note in May last year, the 37-year-old said: “They’re asking me if I’m gonna tie them up at all. Lol. No, no of course not, no, no, no, no I’m not gonna do that at all. Much.” Jurors were previously shown an image of items purchased by the defendant, which included items from what prosecutors described as his “kit” of materials.

In a different chat with a man who gave his name as Alfie Noakes, which was found by officers after he was arrested, the pair exchanged images of Ms Willoughby. After photos were exchanged, Plumb said the things he would do to her “would put me (sic) death row”. Following a response from Mr Noakes which said “I bet”, the defendant went on to say he wanted to get a “crew of 3 or 4 guys to abduct her”.

Speaking to EssexLive , Detective Chief Inspector Greg Wood of Essex Police, who led the investigation, said Plumb’s actions were “horrendous”. He added: “Gavin Plumb was clearly determined to make his plan a reality. He meticulously planned his route, how he was going to do it, he had bought items online that were going to make it a reality and sought out like minded people online. I have no doubt that Plumb is a dangerous individual.”

Nicola Rice, a specialist prosecutor in the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Gavin Plumb is a dangerous man who plotted unspeakable violence against one of the nation’s most familiar faces. 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 bare 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.”

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