In 2007 then 14-year-old Andrew Gosden disappeared from London, England. Andrew lived in Doncaster, and had purchased a one-way ticket to the big city. The last reliable clue we have is a CCTV image from the King’s Cross subway station in London.
Below is my interview with Mr. Kevin Gosden, Andrew’s father. Thank you, Sir, for your time!
If you have any information on the disappearance, contact Missing People at 116000 (UK free number, available 24/7). The organization’s website is at missingpeople.org.uk
Who are you? Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am Kevin Gosden (Andrew’s Dad). I am 54 (42 when he went missing 14.09.2007). My wife Glenys and I were married in 1990 (she is 55) and had our first child, Charlotte (now 29) almost a year later. Andrew was born 2 years after that 10.07.1993. When Andrew went missing I was a Speech & Language Therapist in the NHS working with people suffering from neuro-degenerative diseases and traumatic brain injury. Mental health issues following Andrew’s disappearance made me resign in 2008 and now I receive some benefit and am able to work part time cleaning the church I attend. Our daughter Charlotte married Joseph in 2016 and now we have a 10 month old grandson, Marco.
What is your family like?
We have always been a close family. Glenys and I are both Christians and have always been heavily involved with our church. Whilst the children grew up within the church family as well as our own, we were always careful to make it clear that any decision about faith is a personal one, so we did not have them baptised but instead held a service of dedication. We were always careful to include a great deal of family time in our daily routine and for example always ate our meals and did the dishes together so there was always a space to talk about anything and everything. We have always been in touch with and regularly visited wider family and Andrew was familiar with London as most of my family live in London suburbs.
Tell us Andrew’s story, in your own words! What was he like growing
up? What were his hobbies? His dreams?
We always used to say (and still do!) that we had the easiest children ever. Both were very contented babies and slept through nights after just a few weeks. Both are academically very gifted and learned to read by age 2 or 3. Both are particularly gifted with maths and I was always in awe of their abilities in that area. They were both enrolled in a government scheme (no longer in existence) called the National Association for Gifted and Talented Youth. Andrew attended a summer school in 2006 at Lancaster University as part of that. They related particularly well to adults from an early age because of their intelligence and I always found them both to be very company and a pleasure to be with.
Andrew was the “laid back” one who never appeared to worry about anything and is/was one of those slightly annoying people who seem to be able to achieve without the slightest effort things that the rest of us find rather hard work! We nicknamed him “Roo” as he was little and bouncy, I really don’t ever recall seeing him look down and I remember his teachers in primary school commenting on how cheerful he always seemed.
He is a deep thinker and perhaps wouldn’t say so much, but when he did it was worth listening to. He enjoyed verbal wit and comedy immensely and was always making funny or amusing comments that made us all laugh. Andrew was good to be around but also happy with his own company and the sort of person who would have a small number of solid friends rather than a wide circle of acquaintances. I never heard anyone ever say that he was irritating in any way.
He had many interests and hobbies growing up. He loved snooker and we took him to the Crucible to see World Championship matches many times. He had a hobby of collecting and polishing rocks and minerals. He loved reading and worked through all the usual children’s books. Nearer to when he vanished he tended to read authors like John Grisham or Jeffrey Archer for relaxation. He had an X-Box and could often be found playing sports games on that.
Like any family we took holidays as he grew up according to our level of income and he certainly enjoyed foreign travel (e.g. Malta, Cyprus, Egypt, Tunisia, France). And we checked, he did not take his passport when he went missing.
He liked rock/metal music and I supplied him with a very powerful hi-fi separates system – he liked bands like Muse, U2, Coldplay, Marilyn Manson, Evanescence and so forth. My favourite birthday ever was my 40th when I took the kids to Sheffield and we saw the 007 film Casino Royale, went for an Italian meal (another fave of Andrew’s) and then to see Muse play live in the evening, ensuring we all came home with a genuine tour t-shirt.
Andrew never really expressed any particular thoughts about future careers but he did have the sort of personality that, once he decided to do something, he would work at it and persevere with it generally ending up with a pretty good result, so we never worried about that as we had confidence that he would simply find the thing that really interested him and then nothing would stop him!
What happened on the day of Andrew’s disappearance in 2007? Take us
through the day!
I last saw him going out the front door in his school uniform. We said, “Bye, see you later” to one another and that is the last time we spoke. He crossed our street to the local park, which was as good a route to the bus stop as any, but instead of going to school, went to the nearest cash machine and withdrew £200 (there was £214 in the account I think), returned to the house, changed into casual clothes and then walked to the station (10 minutes) and got a one-way ticket to Kings Cross, arriving there a little before noon. The one way ticket is a cause for speculation but we didn’t think it so odd because we knew he could easily get himself to a number of family members in London and it would not have been unlike him just to have thought he would work out a return journey later on.
We discovered he was missing around 6pm when we called to him for dinner and then found he was not in the house. Initially of course we called friends of his and then found he had not been at school. This was what rang alarm bells for us as we had seen him leave for school and he had a 100% attendance record (I still have certificates and report cards to prove it too!). So at this point we called the Police and set about calling hospitals and so forth and I recall Charlotte and I driving his route to school and checking any pieces of waste ground and so on in case he had been involved in an incident of some kind.
We found out for definite that he had gone to London on the Monday morning when the staff member who sold him the ticket was back on duty. Interestingly, based on his likes we had guessed that he would either have gone to London, or possibly Whitby (and had leafleted and searched the latter as best we could over the weekend).
What do you think was driving him that day? Why did he go to London?
I wish we knew. Our biggest problem is that we have no clue(s). Nothing was found through any form of communication to give us any hint. He seemed entirely OK up to and including the moment he seemed to leave for school that day. If Andrew had a plan, we think it existed solely within his own mind and unfortunately none of us, nor anyone else (friends/teachers etc) had the slightest idea.
Does your “father’s intuition” say anything about this?
Frankly, no. We have, in common with the online speculation threads, wondered if he may have had a mental health issue which was not relevant, or perhaps issues around sexuality he found too embarrassing to raise and discuss, or if something had upset him, but definitely nothing came up at home and we are as sure as we can be that the same is true of school. We have tried to think of every possibility, which is a form of mental torture for us. I think if he had worries of any kind, he would most likely have confided in Charlotte, but she was in shock just as much as the rest of us.
Who did he know in London? Were these people “cleared”?
My parents, couple of aunts, couple of uncles, some old friends of mine. They were among the first people we called and remain as baffled as we are. And yes, they were “cleared” by the Police side of things.
How did the police investigate the disappearance?
The initial response from the Police was severely lacking. Ultimately, my breakdown was caused by the fact that whilst failing to request relevant CCTV footage and to follow up possible sightings of Andrew within an effective time frame they preferred to carry out unlawfully recorded interviews aimed at pressurising me into revealing murder, abuse, anything to explain his disappearance. I knew I could tell them nothing as I did not know and attempted to take my own life so they would stop wasting their time and go and search for him effectively. I thought this would be better for him and my wife and daughter. I was cut down by our friend and Vicar by the way who happened to call as I hung myself and had a spare key having heard an alarming noise. Even after this, there was a 2 or 3 year period during which the Police carried out stop and search procedures on our car throughout the UK citing offences I had never committed as the reason for the stop. I honestly think that we as a family carried out far more Police work in terms of searching than the Police did at the time.
Are the police still actively looking into this?
It took almost a decade, but we do now have an excellent liaison officer who deals with Andrew’s case. All missing cases remain technically open unless a resolution is a found. Our current chap has been active in supporting our initiatives, listens to us, speaks with us and can be relied upon to follow up any potential snippet of information where it is possible to do so, however unlikely it may seem.
Have there been any reliable leads in Andrew’s disappearance,
something particularly promising?
There were some in the first week or two we found highly plausible but were unable to trace any further movements from. From then, the most plausible possibility arose in 2017 following an online conversation someone had with Andrew which suggested it could be “our” Andrew and that he was located in the Lincoln area. We did a great deal of searching and publicity around this but nothing concrete has arisen, so have to conclude that either it was not Andrew (but just someone with things in common) or that he was only in that area temporarily.
One thing we have found is that it is relatively easy to find someone who looks a bit like Andrew, but extremely difficult to find the genuine article!
How can people contribute to the search for Andrew?
At the moment, probably sharing appeals via social media is the most helpful thing people can do and I would want to encourage people to share appeals for any missing person as many children and young people also experience abuse of some kind while they are away from their home and families.
What are you currently doing in terms of searching for Andrew? Are
you exploring any new avenues or something like that?
I have said before now that I cannot think of anything we have not tried, probably several times (if Andrew had a persevering character, he inherited it from me most likely, there is a Gosden independent streak that does not easily give up, especially on love). Then a suggestion, thought, or possibility has opened up a new avenue to try and we have tried it. At the moment, beyond trying to keep the public aware of Andrew we have no particular path to pursue that we can think of.
Anything you would like to add that I didn’t ask about?
Most important to me is that others should not go through this endless nightmare. I would urge anyone with young family members and young people to ensure that the Missing People helpline number 116000 (24/7, free anywhere in Europe) is in their phone contacts list and they know what it is for. Even if thinking about going missing, please call. No-one will blame you for whatever you are going through or thinking about, but the risks of going missing are huge and there are many services who can help if given the opportunity. Much like discussing with your kids how to handle alcohol, offers of drugs, how to stay safe when out alone, please include going missing. It is not as rare as you might imagine, it could happen to your family, so make sure you know where to turn for help please. It would be my genuine hope that this meant numbers in telephones that were never used, but if it is there, it could help.