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Revealed: Holly Willoughby’s hell at the hands of trolls who connected kidnap and murder plot ordeal to Phillip Schofield. And the one question that still haunts her…

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Revealed: Holly Willoughby's hell at the hands of trolls who connected kidnap and murder plot ordeal to Phillip Schofield. And the one question that still haunts her...

 

An unexpected knock on Holly Willoughby’s door on a dark night last October changed her life for ever.

 

Revealed: Holly Willoughby's hell at the hands of trolls who connected kidnap and murder plot ordeal to Phillip Schofield. And the one question that still haunts her...

On her doorstep were police officers who told her that, just hours earlier, they had foiled a plot to kidnap, rape and murder her. The accused, security guard Gavin Plumb, was now in custody.

Friends of the TV presenter tell me she was ‘numb… dumbfounded’ at the revelation — but, most of all, was ‘truly terrified’.

As the police spoke to her and with her husband, TV executive Dan Baldwin, at her side, I’m told Holly, all too understandably, ‘descended into an absolute state’.

And little wonder. As a jury later heard, before they convicted Plumb of all charges against him this week, the 30stone fanatic had gathered a disturbing array of items that he planned to use to kidnap Holly, including a chloroform restraint kit, handcuffs, cable ties and ball gags.

Holly Willoughby was so shaken by the police’s disclosure that they had foiled a plot to kidnap, rape and murder her, she refused to leave her London home at all for several weeks

Holly Willoughby was so shaken by the police’s disclosure that they had foiled a plot to kidnap, rape and murder her, she refused to leave her London home at all for several weeks

Security guard Gavin Plumb was convicted by a jury of all charges against him this week

Once he’d kidnapped her, he planned to take her to an abandoned and isolated stud farm for sexual torture, then kill her and dump her body in a lake. These gruesome details shook Holly immeasurably.

‘It came from nowhere and for no reason,’ says someone close to her. ‘It’s the kind of thing that makes you go weak at the knees. Can you imagine what that did to her? One minute she was preparing to get up the next day and host This Morning, the next she was too scared to go to work.’

More than this, I can reveal, Holly was so shaken by the police’s disclosure that she refused to leave her London home at all for several weeks. Indeed, the first time she was seen in public was in late December when she and her family were spotted going for lunch near her home.

So debilitating were the revelations that she kept much of the detail of Plumb’s horrifying plan a secret from even those close to her. ‘As far as many people around Holly were concerned she just had a stalker,’ said one friend.

‘There was no comprehension it was anything more than that. Celebrities having stalkers is sadly a very common thing, but this was so much more. But she couldn’t say too much about it. It broke her.’

One of the first calls Holly made after the police visit was to her boss at ITV, the channel’s head of daytime TV, Emma Gormley.

Gormley, who oversees This Morning, was sworn to secrecy by a shaken Holly. Not even This Morning’s editor Martin Frizell — a big supporter and close friend of Holly’s — was made aware of the situation until shortly before the presenter made her statement announcing her exit from the live television show five days later.

In a flash, Holly’s world had been entirely reduced to the four walls of her south-west London home.

Friends rallied round: Spice Girl Emma Bunton, All Saints singer Nicole Appleton and Holly’s ITV colleague Christine Lampard all visited her home as she was too frightened even to consider leaving home to visit them.

Plumb captured on bodycam during his arrest last October

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