Holly Willoughby ‘obsessed’ man made kidnap kit with knife, handcuffs and chloroform, court told


An “obsessed” security guard who purchased a ‘kidnap kit’ and chloroform to abduct, rape and murder Holly Willoughby knew how to “terrify and overpower a woman”, a court heard.

Gavin Plumb, 37, had previously attacked women using both a knife and an imitation firearm before he formulated a detailed plan to kidnap and kill the television personality in a home invasion.

A trial heard it was his “ultimate fantasy” to target Ms Willoughby, 43, and he had purchased metal cable ties, a knife and chloroform – a liquid drug used to stupefy victims – in preparation for an alleged attack.

The shopping centre security guard is accused of soliciting an undercover US officer he met in an online forum called ‘Abduct Lovers’ to join a plot to commit murder, and incitement to kidnap and rape the former This Morning presenter. Plumb, of Harlow, Essex, denies all charges.

The court heard how Plumb unwittingly explained his plans in an online discussion with the officer, who used the pseudonym David Nelson.

“The prosecution’s case is that this defendant’s online discussions reveal his real intention to carry out a plot to kidnap Holly Willoughby from her family home; to take her to a location where she would be raped repeatedly, before the defendant then intended to kill her,” prosecutor Alison Morgan KC told the court.

“It was not just the ramblings of a fantasist. The defendant had carefully planned what he would do and how he would do it, purchasing items that would assist him in carrying out the attack.”

Jurors at Chelmsford Crown Court were told how Plumb had tried to abduct women from a train on two occasions in 2006 – once using a fake gun to force his victim to comply.

He later held two teenage girls at knifepoint in a shop stockroom in 2008. He was tying one girl’s hands behind her back with ropes when the other escaped and called for help.

Court sketch of Gavin Plumb at Chelmsford Crown Court (Elizabeth Cook/PA Wire)
Court sketch of Gavin Plumb at Chelmsford Crown Court (Elizabeth Cook/PA Wire)

Opening the case on Monday, prosecutor Ms Morgan KC said the defendant’s history showed that his plans were “not just a fantasy”.

“These were real offences, committed against real women, involving this defendant threatening them and trying to control and detain them,” she told the court.

“He had an imitation firearm. He had ropes and tapes. He had bound the hands of one of the victims.

“When you consider the discussions about Holly Willoughby and what this defendant planned to do to her, you will do so in the context of those earlier offences.

“They 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.”

The court heard how Plumb also revealed his sexual obsession with Ms Willoughby, who has waived her right to anonymity, in a series of conversations during 2021 and 2022 in with an online user called ‘Marc’.

He shared images of Ms Willoughby’s home, discussed ‘ambush points’ and shared deepfake pornographic images of the Dancing on Ice presenter as he hatched a plan with Marc and a third party, who was later named as ‘Ryan’ in their conversations.

In describing exactly what he wanted to do to Ms Willoughby, the defendant said: “...getting her has been my ultimate fantasy for way too long. I’m now at the point that fantasy isn’t enough anymore. I want the real thing.”

They also discussed abandoned buildings where they could take the star, with Plumb at one point sharing an image of a dungeon type room – where Marc observed no one would be able to hear her screams.

Gavin Plumb denies all charges (Sourced)
Gavin Plumb denies all charges (Sourced)

In April 2022, he purchased metal cable ties from Amazon, which he said he would use to tie up Ms Willoughby’s husband in online discussions, the court heard.

He also suggested that Ms Willoughby’s desire to protect her children would be “extra reason for her to be obedient.”

By March 2023, the defendant set out his alleged abduction plans in voice note played to the court. He said: “Right er plan of action I’ll give you a brief rundown, basically we’re gonna hit, hit it at night er less traffic on the road etcetera.

“Erm Chloroform both of them that way then they can both be easily restrained. Pick out outfits of hers that we like and then obviously take her and the outfits with us and then we’re gone.”

He also outlined plans to force her to record a video in which she says she is “fully consenting” in order to “cover us”, the court heard.

Ms Morgan told the jury that Plumb had researched chloroform – a chemical which can be used to incapacitate people – and two bottles were found at his address.

It wasn’t until October 2023 that an undercover US officer from the Owatonna Police Department, who used fake identities to conduct covert investigations into murder for hire and kidnap plots, made contact with Plumb in a forum called ‘Abduct Lovers’.

Using the online identity ‘BigBear’, Plumb revealed his plans to invade Ms Willoughby’s home and tie up her husband before taking the star away to “enjoy her”.

Afterwards, he said he would “slit her throat” and dispose of her body.

“The defendant had shared a video with the officer showing real items in his possession, which he described as his “kit” of materials, laid out on a bed; to include hand and ankle shackles, ball gag, rope, metal cable ties and handcuffs. These items would later be found at the defendant’s home address,” Ms Morgan told the jury.

Plumb also boasted about his previous convictions against women in order to bolster his credibility to the undercover officer online, bragging: “I got 16 months. Our justice system is s*** tbh,” he told the officer.

The US officer contact the FBI and the Metropolitan Police. When he was arrested in Essex on 4 October and charges read out, Plumb responded: “I’m not gonna lie. She is a fantasy of mine.”

Ms Morgan told the jury that Plumb’s obsession went “beyond just fantasy” and would have involved “catastrophic violence” against Ms Willoughby if his kidnap plans had not been interrupted by his arrest.

Plumb, of Harlow, Essex, denies all charges.

The trial heard by Mr Justice Murray continues.