A security guard told police Holly Willoughby “is a fantasy of mine” when he was arrested for plotting to kidnap the television presenter, in footage played in court.

Giving evidence for the first time on Friday, Gavin Plumb, 37, said Willoughby, 43, was “my celebrity crush” but insisted he never intended to act on his alleged plans.

In footage played at Chelmsford Crown Court, police are seen smashing through the front door of his home in Harlow, Essex, on 4 October last year, before a topless Plumb asks: “What the hell is going on?”

Stood in his bedroom, he is open mouthed as he is handcuffed, before an officer explains he is being arrested over an alleged conspiracy to kidnap the former This Morning host Willoughby while he is sat on his bed.

Gavin Plumb arrest. Pic: Essex Police

“I’m not gonna lie. She is a fantasy of mine,” he says. “She’s a fantasy of a lot of guys I expect.”

Prosecutors say Plumb was obsessed with Willoughby – who stepped down from the ITV show in October last year after 14 years – and planned to abduct, repeatedly rape and murder her.

An undercover US police officer, using the name David Nelson, on Thursday told jurors he believed Plumb posed an “imminent threat” to the presenter, who hosted Dancing On Ice earlier this year.

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Plumb denies the charges against him.
Plumb denies the charges against him

Plumb shared a video of his “kidnap kit” with the officer and said he would use chloroform to snatch Willoughby from her home to sexually assault her before slitting her throat, the jury has heard.

The officer alerted UK police who found two bottles of liquid, alongside items including handcuffs, rope, shackles and cable ties, at Plumb’s home – but they were found not to contain the substance.

Further footage played in court shows Plumb being held in a police station holding area wearing a dark green T-shirt as officers searched his home as he says: “I can pretty much guess what they’re looking for.”

Plumb denies three charges of soliciting murder and encouraging kidnap and rape between 21 December 2021 and 5 October last year.

Inside Plumb's flat. Pic: CPS
Inside Plumb’s flat. Pic: CPS

Plumb claimed chloroform was to remove carpet stain. Pic: CPS
Plumb claimed chloroform was to remove carpet stain. Pic: CPS

Giving evidence for the first time on Friday, he told the jury he spent his life online engaging in “wholesome chat” but also fantasising about having sex with celebrities, including Willoughby, whom he had seen on daytime TV after he became housebound, having gained weight and reaching 35.5 stone.

“She was my celebrity crush,” said Plumb, who sat down in a chair to give his evidence, wearing a light grey sweater and dark trousers, after telling the judge he would not be able to stand.

Asked how many times he thought about her a day, Plumb said: “It would depend how many times I would chat about her. Some days it would be once, other days it would be four, five, six times.”

But the chats became “darker” from 2021, he said, being questioned by his barrister Sasha Wass KC.

Gavin Plumb
Gavin Plumb

Plumb told jurors he was “sorry” for the contents, adding: “I’m absolutely heartbroken, disgusted and shocked that it has come out.”

‘Kidnap kit’

He admitted he found the conversations “exciting” at the time but added: “Looking back at it now it’s massively regrettable because it’s not the sort of chat I would normally participate in.”

Plumb added: “It was kind of like gratification. It was something I knew was never going to happen.”

He told the jury he had bought most of the items, in what has been described as a “kidnap kit”, following a four-month sexual relationship in which he was introduced to “BDSM and rough sex”, while the chloroform was to clean a “large stain next to my fridge”.

Items in Plumb's alleged 'kidnap kit'. Pic: CPS
Items in Plumb’s alleged ‘kidnap kit’. Pic: CPS

Pic: CPS
Pic: CPS

Plumb told jurors his weight started to fluctuate from the age of 13, which “really affected my mental health” because he could not play sport and was often put “in the friend zone” with girls.

Attempted double-kidnap

The defendant said he has only had one serious relationship, which he described as “extremely toxic”, and lasted four-and-a-half years, during which there were “constant arguments” and he was “constantly put down”.

“I don’t want to be in a relationship anymore,” he said.

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The court has heard he has two convictions for attempted kidnap from 2006, after trying to abduct two women off the Stansted Express train, later claiming they were members of cabin crew. He had rope and an imitation firearm when he was arrested.

Plumb said he was wearing a uniform and travelling between car parks where he worked handing out tickets and although he admitted he “had a stewardess fantasy back then” he said he did it “to get out of the relationship” and it was a “cry for help”.

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He was handed a suspended sentence and in 2008 said he used a box cutter to hold two “shouting and screaming and crying” 16-year-old girls in a warehouse where he worked, taping one of their hands behind her back.

Plumb said he committed the offences to “get away from the relationship”, which ended while he was in jail after he was sentenced to 32 months in prison, serving half, after admitting two charges of false imprisonment.

‘Normal fantasy chat’

He told jurors once released he spent 99.9% of his life online, communicating with others about gaming, football and “normal fantasy chat” but it was “completely different” to the “dark” material he later shared.

Gavin Plumb appeared at Chelmsford Crown Court. Pic: PA/Elizabeth Cook
Gavin Plumb appeared at Chelmsford Crown Court. Pic: PA/Elizabeth Cook

Plumb said chats about him keeping Willoughby in a “dungeon” were “nothing more than talking”, adding: “It was a rush of excitement as I knew it was online chat to get my gratification and move on”.

He denied encouraging an online contact called Marc, who is believed to be based in Ireland, to kidnap or rape Willoughby, saying he never expected him or the undercover officer, whom he thought was in New York, to come to the UK.

“I knew it was never going to be anything more than a fantasy,” he said, telling jurors he never acted on any of the alleged plans.

The court heard Plumb has no driving licence or access to a car and so said he wouldn’t have been able to get to her house, while his weight at the time – up to 30 stone – meant he would be more likely to trip over a small step than scale the high boundary wall.

‘Violent, graphic descriptions’

But prosecutor Alison Morgan KC read out some of the explicit and degrading messages and suggested: “These are violent, graphic descriptions of what you are going to do to Holly Willoughby.”

“No, because it’s not going to happen,” Plumb replied.

The trial continues.