Holly Willoughby speaks out after security guard Gavin Plumb found guilty of kidnap and murder plot

Holly Willoughby has said women "should not be made to feel unsafe going about our daily lives and in our own homes" after a security guard was found guilty of plotting to kidnap, rape and murder her.

In a statement, the TV presenter also thanked an undercover US police officer who helped foil the plot.

She said: "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.

"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."

Prosecutors said Gavin Plumb, 37, was obsessed with then This Morning host Willoughby, 43, who left the ITV show after 14 years last October following his arrest.

A jury at Chelmsford Crown Court took 12 hours and 19 minutes to unanimously convict him of soliciting murder and inciting rape and kidnap.

Plumb slowly shook his head and looked down at the floor as the verdicts were read out. He then began to weep as he was sent down to the cells, sniffling as he tried to hold back tears.

Read more:
How Plumb went from 'quiet hermit' to 'imminent danger' to Willoughby
Security guard's social media history reveals darkening obsession with TV star

Following the guilty verdicts, Essex Police's senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Greg Wood said Plumb was "a dangerous, predatory individual who was intent on causing the most serious harm to his victim".

"He was not just simply obsessed with Holly Willoughby, he meticulously and carefully planned, over a number of years, to carry out a depraved and violent attack, in which he plotted to deprive her of her liberty and ultimately her life," he said.

"His claims in court that he was a 'fantasist' are simply not true and were evidenced by the extent with which he plotted with others to carry out his wicked plan."

The court heard the father-of-two has two previous convictions for attempted kidnap, for trying to abduct two women off a train, and two for false imprisonment, after holding two 16-year-old girls at knifepoint.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard Plumb had been having graphic and highly sexualised conversations with others online about attacking Willoughby and other celebrities since December 2021.

In hundreds of messages shown to the jury, he shared deepfake porn images, pictures of her home and talked about booking time off work to carry out his plan.

An undercover US police officer told jurors last week he believed Plumb posed an "imminent threat" to the presenter after meeting him on a Kik messenger group called "Abduct Lovers".

Plumb had 'kidnap kit'

Plumb said in messages he planned to target Willoughby in a "home invasion", using chloroform to subdue her and her husband, the TV producer Dan Baldwin, before tying them up, kidnapping her and repeatedly raping her.

He shared a video of his "kidnap kit" with the officer, who gained his trust by sharing flight details and a fake ID, and said he would slit Willoughby's throat before disposing of her body in a lake.

The officer, who told Plumb he would travel from New York to help him carry out the plan, alerted the FBI and police in the UK, who raided his flat in Harlow, Essex.

'She is a fantasy of mine'

In footage of the arrest, filmed on an officer's body-worn camera, a topless Plumb, when told he is being held over a plot to kidnap Willoughby, says: "I'm not gonna lie. She is a fantasy of mine."

Police seized items including handcuffs, rope, shackles, a ball gag and cable ties, as well as two bottles labelled as chloroform, which were later found not to contain any of the liquid.

Plumb told jurors the bottles of chloroform he had purchased were to clean a carpet stain and said he had bought a BDSM kit in 2014 "to rekindle my relationship with my ex-partner".

Plumb 'absolutely heartbroken, disgusted and shocked'

Willoughby, who hosted Dancing On Ice earlier this year, did not give evidence or attend the trial but waived her right to automatic anonymity as an alleged victim of a planned sexual offence.

The court heard Plumb had more than a million pictures of her and other stars on his mobile phone and other devices, as well as a handwritten list of celebrities in his bedside drawer.

He told jurors he lived "99.9%" of his life online and weighed up to 30 stone at the time of his arrest, having struggled with his weight since he was a teenager, and could not drive.

In court, he said he was "sorry" for the contents of his messages, adding: "I'm absolutely heartbroken, disgusted and shocked that it has come out."

He claimed it was nothing more than online chat that "was never going to be anything more than a fantasy".

Prosecutor Alison Morgan KC told the jury "it was not just the ramblings of a fantasist" and Plumb had carefully planned what he would do and bought items to carry out the attack.

She said his previous convictions showed he had a "tendency" to commit acts to control and terrify women and he is a man who has "done this for real".

The prosecution will be applying for a restraining order and a sexual harm prevention order at the security guard's sentencing hearing, the court heard.

Plumb will be sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court on Friday 12 July.