Security guard 'plotted to drug, abduct and rape Holly Willoughby before murdering her in dungeon'

Holly Willoughby (PA Archive)
Holly Willoughby (PA Archive)

A security guard plotted to kidnap, rape, and murder TV star Holly Willoughby in order to “live out his ultimate fantasy”, a court has heard.

Gavin Plumb, 37, planned to hire operatives for a nighttime raid the former This Morning host’s family home, in a plan hatched out of “dark depravity”, it is said.

The shopping centre worker, accused of harbouring a “sexual obsession” with Ms Willoughby, allegedly planned to use chloroform, handcuffs, and cables ties to overpower the TV presenter and her husband Dan Baldwin.

He identified a lane near to her family home as a “good ambush point” in online plotting, it is said, and set out in graphic detail his sexual desires towards the star.

He also allegedly plotted to force Ms Willoughby to make a video, saying she agreed to go with him and “fully consented to anything we do with her”.

Plumb planned for almost two years for Ms Willoughby to be tied up, drugged, and taken to a secluded location where she could be repeatedly raped in a “dungeon”, it is alleged.

After the rapes, Plumb is accused of plotting to slit the TV star’s throat and dispose of her body.

He had acquired a “restraint kit”, which included metal cable ties that he had bought on Amazon, as well as gags and handcuffs.

Prosecutor Alison Morgan KC told Chelmsford crown court this was agenuine plot of “trying to use violence and detention” to force Ms Willoughby into sexual activity, and “not just the ramblings of a fantasist”.

Court artist sketch of Gavin Plumb (left) appearing at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court at an earlier hearing (PA Wire)
Court artist sketch of Gavin Plumb (left) appearing at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court at an earlier hearing (PA Wire)

In January 2022, Plumb posted online: “Getting this b*tch is all I can think about. I have wanted this for years. I’m going to be living out my ultimate fantasy.”

The following month, he wrote: “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.”

He planned to repeatedly rape the TV host of Dancing on Ice and then “intended to murder her”, the court heard.

However Plumb was arrested in October 2023 when he unwittinglyrevealed the plan to an undercover US police officer.

“In October 2023, this defendant Gavin Plumb engaged in an online discussion with a person he believed to be called David Nelson”, she told a jury at Chelmsford crown court.

“In that discussion, the defendant explained his plans to kidnap, rape and murder the celebrity Holly Willoughby. The defendant set out his plans and sought to encourage the other person to commit those offences with him.

“The defendant’s plans as to what he wanted to do to Holly Willoughby were graphic and were obviously sexually motivated. They were real to him, members of the jury, and were based on an obsession with Ms Willoughby that had developed over a number of years.

“What the defendant did not know then was that the person that he was communicating with online was an undercover police officer based in the USA and not, in fact, a like-minded abductor.”

Holly Willoughby (PA Archive)
Holly Willoughby (PA Archive)

Plumb was arrested in October last year and is now on trial, accused of soliciting murder, and two counts of encouraging or assisting the commission of offences – rape and kidnap.

“The online discussions that this defendant had 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”, said Ms Morgan, in her opening remarks.

“It was not just the ramblings of a fantasist. This 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.”

Plan to ‘slit her throat’

Jurors heard that the US police officer, using the alias David Nelson, came across Plumb on a chat group titled "Abduct lovers", where members discussed kidnapping, torture, and murder, the court heard.

Plumb, with the username “BigBear”, posted a picture of Holly Willoughby on This Morning and boasted: "I have a shit load of info on her I know when she does and don't have security and that she doesn't have cctv at home. What time she gets up in the morning".

The officer engaged BigBear in communication, posing as a New Yorker who was interested in the kidnap plot.

Ms Morgan said Plumb set out that Ms Willoughby drives herself to the This Morning studios for work in a Mercedes 4x4, details about what she is protected by extra security, and possible “escape routes” for an attack.

Plumb asked if the undercover officer was “up for it”, allegedly referring to a real kidnap plot, and said the plan was “definitely serious for me”.

Jurors heard Plumb shared a Google Maps link to Ms Willoughby’s home address and Street View images, and referring to a “night home invasion”.

“By the time they (police) are called, I’ll be long gone”, he added.

As the conversation progressed, Ms Morgan said Plumb made it clear he intended to kill the TV presenter, and when asked if he was “serious”, Plumb sent a video of items including shackles, a ball gag, cable ties, and handcuffs laid out on his bed.

“It’s real. Just need people that ain’t gonna back out”, wrote Plumb.

“It’s a home invasion so we’ll use the chloroform on her and her husband. Tie both up. Take her. Leave him then it’s take to where she’s being kept and enjoy her.”

When the officer asks what happens after the rape, Plumb replied: “Slit her throat, clear her out and dispose of it.”

“I have got a what I say”

Plumb, who has a 15-year-old son, has “real-life experience of violence towards women”, the court heard, including two attempts in 2006 to kidnap women on trains.

On August 14, 2006, Plumb sat opposite a woman on a train and showed her a note reading: “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 court heard the “terrified” woman broke down in tears and was helped by other passengers, while Plumb fled and tore up the note.

Two days later, he posed as a police officer while trying to lure a woman from a train, and while armed with an imitation firearm, the court heard.

“He adopted the same tactic, showing the victim a note, this time suggesting that he was a police officer and that he needed her to get off the train so that he could speak to her”, said Ms Morgan.

The woman refused, and when Plumb was later caught he had with him three ropes and various notes alongside the imitation firearm.

Two years later, Plumb – then working in Woolworths in Harlow – pulled out a knife on two 16-year-old female colleagues, told them “get to the back of the stockroom”, and attempted to tie them up with rope and tape.

One of the girls managed to escape and raise the alarm.

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

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

She said Plumb’s past crimes show he “knew what it would take to terrify and overpower a woman. He was someone who had chosen to do this for real, not just as a fantasy.”

Two-year ‘home invasion’ plot

The court heard Plumb had allegedly been plotting the attack on Ms Willoughby since 2021, and jurors were shown chat logs with another man, known as ‘Marc’.

Ms Morgan said the messages are “highly sexualised”, including references to “violence”, “detention”, and a “home invasion”, and combined with deep-fake porn images of Ms Willoughby.

“The defendant had already identified where Holly Willoughby lived and shared images of her home”, she said.

Ms Morgan said Plumb, in his defence, is likely to suggest the online conversations were “fantasy” and not real plans.

“If it is a fantasy, two blokes disgustingly getting off on this kind of chat, why does it matter where she actually lives? Why does it matter to share images of her home address”, she asked jurors.

The court heard Plumb and ‘Marc’ discussed “what they would do with Holly Willoughby’s sister” and talked about “other celebrities” that would be targeted after an attack on Holly Willoughby.

Ms Morgan said Plumb and ‘Marc’ also discussed “real practicalities” in their planning, including Plumb saying it is “not a problem” that neither of them can drive.

It is said he used his previous convictions to “gain credibility”, boasting that he had taken the teenage girls to the “darkest part of the warehouse”.

He also suggested he would go to “check out” Ms Willoughby’s home, and used Google Earth to look at access points to the home, it is alleged.

On February 4, 2022, Plumb sent a message to Marc saying: “We have decided a home invasion might be the route as we get her tied and restrained then bring her out while on her property.”

He then added: “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.”

Plumb told Marc: “I've staked her out give him the estimates I've got and the route I've estimated she takes and see what he says I've also found the possibility of a few abandoned places in the UK that's out of London.”

Ms Morgan said Plumb had also talked of getting a spot on a tour of the ITV studios, and, referenced his SIA licence saying he “might try to use it to be her security”.

In June 2022, Plumb is accused of sharing an image a “dungeon type room” which could fit a bed, with Marc responding that her “screams can’t be heard for miles”.

Chloroform and a secluded dungeon

The plan stalled in 2022, jurors heard, but on December 5 of that year Plumb was “planning how he would incapacitate Holly Willoughby’s husband Dan”, said Ms Morgan.

“With Dan we use the metal cable ties, with Holly we use the handcuffs”, Plumb wrote, and suggested stuffing socks into Mr Baldwin’s mouth. He also referenced to the couple’s children being present as an “extra incentive for her to be obedient”.

In March 2023, Plumb set out his “plan of action” in a voice note, saying: “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.”

The following month, it is alleged Plumb researched buying chloroform, as well as its effects.

In a second voice note, Plumb said they will “force her to make a video saying she has come with us under her own free will”, adding that she will say she “fully consented to anything we do with her”.

The court heard Plumb had amassed hundreds of images of Ms Willoughby, and used online sources and social media to track her movements.

“His obsessive behaviour extended to other celebrities and also to women who lived in his local area”, said Ms Morgan.

“He commented on the appearance of women in a degrading manner, making graphic suggestions to others about what he wanted to do to those women in sexual terms.”

Plot to ‘get rid’

In conversations with the undercover officer, Plumb set out his alleged plan: “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 described raping Holly Willoughby, blindfolding the TV star, and ultimately concluded “then we get rid”.

The court heard he described using bleach and using a knife to cut her throat.

Ms Willoughby, 43, stepped down as a presenter on This Morning in October last year after 14 years on the ITV show.

Plumb, from HarlowEssex, denies all the charges against him.

It is said he “solicited, encouraged, persuaded, endeavoured to persuade or proposed to another to murder Holly Willoughby”, having plotted to kidnap her between December 27, 2021 and October 5 last year.

It is alleged he “assembled a restraint kit, and formulated a plan with a third party to travel to the UK and to the home of Holly Willoughby, break-in to her home, stupefy and tie her up and by force deprive her of her liberty without her consent”.

When arrested, Plumb was “shocked”, jurors were told, and when informed of the allegations against him he replied: “I’m not gonna lie. She is a fantasy of mine.”

Ms Morgan said Plumb had a folder on his phone named ‘Holly’ which contained more than 10,000 images.

Ms Willoughby is not due to be called as a witness during the trial, which is expected to last two weeks.

“You will not be hearing from Holly Willoughby as a witness in this case”, said Ms Morgan.

“That is because you are concerned with the evidence showing the defendant’s planning of these offences. Your task is not to assess the likely impact of this offending on Holly Willoughby.

“The defendant’s planning of these offences was interrupted by his arrest. He never got to the point of encountering Holly Willoughby. She did not meet him and the offences that the Prosecution alleges against this defendant, which if carried out would have involved catastrophic violence against her, were disrupted.”

The trial continues.