A shopping centre security officer on trial over a plot to kidnap, rape and murder Holly Willoughby had made failed kidnap attempts before, a court has heard.

Gavin Plumb, 37, is alleged to have developed an “obsession” with TV presenter Holly Willoughby over a number of years, leading him to plan to kidnap her from her family home.

Chelmsford Crown Court was told that Plumb had tied a 16-year-old girl’s hands up with rope and tape, and had attempted to force two different women off a train with him with the threat of a gun.

Prosecutor Alison Morgan KC said each of the attempts was thwarted, with one woman crying in terror.

She said Plumb’s previous kidnap attempts “tell you that this defendant knew what it would take to terrify and overpower a woman”.Ms Morgan told a jury on Monday: “On August 14 2006, the defendant approached a woman on a train.

“He sat opposite her and stared at her, before showing her a note which said: ‘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 victim was terrified and began to cry.

“Others on the train came over, at which point the defendant tore up the note and ran off at the next stop.”

Telling the court about the second victim, Ms Morgan said: “Two days later, the defendant attempted to force another woman to get off a train with him.

“This time he was armed with an imitation firearm.

“He adopted the same approach, showing the victim a note, this time he suggested that he was a police officer and that he needed her to get off the train so that he could speak to her.

“She refused to get off the train with him but when she did get off the train, she reported the matter to the police.

“The defendant was found to be in possession of an imitation firearm, three rope ligatures and various notes that he had used or intended to use to try to get women off the train.”

Ms Morgan also told the court that, two years later, two 16-year-olds who worked at a shop in Harlow, were also the subject of approaches by Plumb.

The prosecutor said: “They were carrying out restocking on the first floor of the unit.

“The defendant approached them and said ‘Get to the back of the stockroom’.

“He pulled out a knife and held it towards them, telling them to turn around and to put their hands behind their backs.

“He then took some rope and tape out of his pocket and he tied the hands of one of girls.

“As he did so, the other girl managed to escape and she managed to raise the alarm.

“Both of the girls were terrified.

“The police were called and they arrested the defendant.”

Addressing all Plumb’s previous convictions, Ms Morgan said: “These were real offences, committed against real women, involving this defendant threatening them and trying to control and detain them.

“For some he had an imitation firearm. He had rope, he had tapes, and he 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 someone who had chosen to do this for real, and not just as a fantasy.”

Plumb denies hatching a plot to kidnap, rape and murder Ms Willoughby.

The trial continues.