Holly Willoughby issues statement after sick kidnap, rape and murder plot

-Credit: (Image: PA)
-Credit: (Image: PA)

Holly Willoughby has issued a statement after a man was found guilty of plotting to kidnap, rape and murder her.

The TV presenter said women 'should not be made to feel unsafe going about our daily lives and in our own homes', and thanked all those involved in foiling Gavin Plumb's plans and bringing him to justice.

Security guard Plumb, 37, wept in court today (July 4) after he was convicted of masterminding a vile plot, which was eventually brought down by an undercover US police officer - from the Owatonna Police Department in Minnesota.

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A jury at Chelmsford Crown Court dismissed Plumb's defence that his plans were a 'mere fantasy', and unanimously convicted him of soliciting murder and inciting rape and kidnap.

Dancing on Ice host and former This Morning presenter Willoughby issued a statement after his conviction. In it she thanked the undercover police officer as well as the Crown Prosecution Service and her legal team.

The mother-of-three, who has waived her right to anonymity, said: "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.

Guilty: Gavin Plumb -Credit:PA
Guilty: Gavin Plumb -Credit:PA

"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 slowly shook his head and looked down at the floor as the verdict was read aloud in court. The defendant, who adopted the user name Big Bear to chat to others about his plot online, appeared to formulate his fantasy as early as 2011 – googling the phrase “how to meet people who plan to kidnap celebs”.

During the trial, jurors were taken through a lengthy “sequence of events” document, which displayed Plumb’s “appalling messages” to others about what he would do to the Dancing On Ice presenter. His plans were foiled when one of his potential accomplices, who went by the name of David Nelson, turned out to be an undercover officer from the Owatonna Police Department in the US state of Minnesota.

CPS-issued image of items Plumb bought -Credit:PA
CPS-issued image of items Plumb bought -Credit:PA

Plumb told Mr Nelson he was “definitely serious” about his plot to kidnap Ms Willoughby, leaving the officer with the impression that there was an “imminent threat” to her. Evidence was passed to the FBI and the defendant was arrested at his flat in Harlow, Essex, on October 4 last year, where he told officers: “I’m not gonna lie, she is a fantasy of mine.”

His kidnap plans involved attempting to “ambush” Ms Willoughby at her family home – even discussing taking time off work in order to organise the attack. Plumb told others he would then take the presenter to another location, which he suggested would be a “dungeon” type room.

The jury was told he checked out an abandoned stud farm with cells to “keep” Ms Willoughby. The defendant’s messages showed how he planned to rape her at the location before killing her and then putting her “into a lake at night”.

Prosecutors described Plumb’s plot as “carefully planned” – pointing to the items he had purchased and the lengths to which he had gone to find out when Ms Willoughby did not have security.

Police bodycam footage of his arrest -Credit:Essex Police Handout
Police bodycam footage of his arrest -Credit:Essex Police Handout

In her opening to the jury, prosecutor Alison Morgan KC told the court of his previous convictions for false imprisonment and attempted kidnap, saying that they showed he “knew what it would take to terrify and overpower a woman”.

At the end of the trial, Ms Morgan highlighted the obvious flaws in Plumb’s defence – saying the “boring details” of his plans were not “sexy or gratifying”. Plumb told jurors that bottles of chloroform he had purchased were to clean a carpet stain and that he had bought a BDSM kit, including a set of handcuffs, in 2014 “to rekindle my relationship with my ex-partner”.

He said he had read articles on “what it’s like to be raped” in 2021 in order to help a female friend, and did not initially hand over his phone’s Pin number to officers because he had previously had “problems” with the police.

The defendant also relied on his “between 25-30 stone” weight as a defence – claiming that it would not be possible for him to “jump” over Ms Willoughby’s garden wall, as he had outlined in his messages.

He told jurors his online chats were “massively regrettable” and that he was “heartbroken, disgusted and shocked” that they had come out. Plumb will be sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court on Friday July 12.