Andrew Gosden is a young man who got off a train and into obscurity. His case is as frustrating as it is heartwrenching, and his family were on the receiving end of some extremely bad luck.
14-year-old Andrew Gosden has just returned to school after eight weeks off. A gifted student at McAuley Catholic High School in Doncaster, Andrew is a member of the Young Gifted and Talented Programme, which aims to advance the development of the top 5% of learners. He is expected to achieve A grades in his GCSE exams, which are two years away.
Gosden is shy, and although he is academically smart, he is clumsy and sometimes naive to the world around him. However, this is to be somewhat expected due to his age – his family are religious, but do not force Andrew to have the same views as them, as they prefer him to think for himself.
By the start of the new school year in September, Andrew chooses to walk home from school instead of getting the usual bus. The 4-mile journey from school takes almost 90 minutes, it is unknown why Andrew makes this decision. His school life is relatively mundane, he is neither a popular student or a bullied one. He rarely speaks of his school life at home and seems indifferent to education as a whole, perhaps the whole thing is too easy for him. He has cruised through school, and perhaps is already thinking of college – as it might perhaps finally challenge him.
September 13, 2007
The Gosden family eats dinner together as usual, and perhaps discuss their respective days at work and school. It is clear Andrew comes from a good family, and has parents who support and care about him. After dinner, Andrew watches the sketch-comedy That Michell and Webb Look with his parents – before retiring to his room, ready for the next day.
Nothing is amiss, and the 14th of September looks like it’ll be another day in the status quo of an English family.
September 14, 2007
Andrew’s father, Kevin, wakes Andrew up for school. Although he is usually up by this time, Andrew seems lethargic and irritable today. At 8:05am, he finally leaves for school, a little later than usual. However, Andrew must have decided the night before that this was not going to be a normal school day.
Instead of waiting for the bus, Andrew heads to Westfield Park. Once there, he waits for several minutes until he is certain everybody in his house has left for work or school. Andrew then walks back home, where is captured on a neighbour’s CCTV system.
Family friend Rev. Alan Murray spots Andrew walking back into his house. Perhaps Murray assumes Andrew has just forgotten something. He would be the last person in Andrew’s neighbourhood to see him.
Andrew ditches his school uniform and changes into casual clothes. His schoolwear is placed into the washing machine, and Andrew leaves donning a Slipknot t-shirt, jeans, and a bag decorated with various patches of rock and metal bands. Also with him is his PSP console, and £200 he withdrew from a cashpoint. For one reason or another his PSP charger, and an additional £100, is left in his room.
At 8:30am, Andrew heads to Doncaster Railway Station.
Once at the station, he requests a one-way ticket to King’s Cross Station in London. The woman at the desk says that a return could be purchased at a meager cost more, but Andrew declines this offer and sticks to his one-way ticket. He then boards the 9:35 train to London.
Doncaster Railway Station
Once he is aboard the train, Andrew remains engrossed in his PSP. The woman sat next to him remembers a quiet, calm young man matching his description – playing the same game’s console and wearing the same clothes. The journey to London is only a few hours, and at 11:40, the train arrives.
He is captured on CCTV several times, getting off the train and arriving at the main concourse. This CCTV image is the last confirmed image of Andrew.
It is from this moment that Andrew Gosden would become a missing person. Sadly, this is a status that he still has today.
On the evening of September 14th, Andrew was reported missing. His family arrived home and assumed he was in his room playing video games, as this was often the case. However, it soon became clear that Andrew was not at home, nor was he at the home of any of his friends.
Panicked, of course, his family report Andrew missing at 7pm. His neighbourhood is searched top to bottom – bushes, woods, parks, houses are scoured – but no trace of the young man is found. Fliers are handed out everywhere and, soon, Andrew’s face becomes the most well-known in the vicinity.
Little did they know that Andrew is hundreds of miles away, and has been for several hours.
Days pass without a hint of where Andrew has gone, police decide to check Doncaster Railway Station in the belief that Andrew perhaps boarded a train somewhere. It is then that they discover that he had, indeed, got a train – and it was to London. Andrew was no stranger to the capital city, as he had family there, and was enamored with the city. This discovery does not shock the Gosden family – as they are aware of Andrew’s fondness.
Lady Luck Goes Against Them
Since Andrew did not arrive at school, his absence was noted. He had a 100% attendance record, so it was highly unusual for Andrew not to show. His parents were supposed to be informed, but the person making the call misdialed his father’s phone number, and recorded a voicemail that was not delivered to Gosden’s family- instead going to the family either above or below his name in the register.
This wouldn’t be the last of the bad luck. The police investigation was botched from the beginning – the investigation was much too focused on the Gosden family, despite the CCTV footage from both the neighbour and King’s Cross Station proving that Andrew had vanished on his own. The good-natured parents were devastated by the police suggesting that Kevin Gosden was involved somehow. Eventually, he was rightly cleared of involvement.
However, by this time, most of the additional footage Andrew would have been captured in had been overwritten. The CCTV footage was not requested until several weeks later – and the trail was long gone by this point. Andrew disappeared in the most-watched city on Earth, yet this advantage was not seized upon in time. Every street corner, bus, bank, shop, and tube station would have documented Andrew’s movements and subsequent journey in London. However, the King’s Cross footage remains the last confirmed sighting of him.
Theories, Explanations, and Developments
We know that Andrew went to London. We also know that he loved the city, and his choice to go there was not out of character for him. What is out of character, however, is him bunking off of school to go there.
Some people speculate that Andrew traveled to London to attend a concert at the O2 Academy in Brixton. Thirty Seconds to Mars were playing there that evening, and Andrew was a fan of similar rock outfits. In addition, SikTH were playing a gig at the Carling Academy in Islington, a short walk from King’s Cross. SikTH were a band who often opened for SlipKnot at concerts, however, it is not certain that Andrew was a fan of these bands, let alone to a point where he would skip school for them. The 2007 YouTube Gathering was also on that day, but it is unlikely that Andrew would have been aware of this as he did not own a computer – and seemingly had little to no interest in YouTube or the Internet as a whole.
Perhaps Andrew traveled to London to meet with someone. It was stated before that he had begun walking home from school rather than getting the bus, and the long walks could have been spent with someone. This would have meant, however, both parties being in London on that day. It is already established that Andrew traveled alone, and neither any of his online or text message activity details him planning the trip with anyone. Some speculate that Andrew appears to be looking for someone in the King’s Cross Footage, but this is purely conjecture. The theory that Andrew was lured to London can’t be discounted, but there is no concrete evidence to prove this.
We all know what it’s like to be a young teenager. We’ve all had ideas and schemes about skipping school for a day and having a Ferris Bueller-Esque adventure in some other town. Perhaps Andrew thought ”screw it, I can afford to miss a day” and spent the night before his disappearance planning his spontaneous adventure, which would explain his lethargic demeanour on the morning he went missing. Sometimes it is easier to ask for forgiveness rather than permission – and Andrew’s grandparents lived in London. Grandparents are generally much more accommodating to mischief than parents, so perhaps Andrew felt like his elderly relatives could stick up for him if his father took issue. Andrew could have been on the receiving end of random foul play in London – which is a terrible thought, but one that needs addressing if any of us wish to get closer in uncovering the mystery of his disappearance.
In 2008, a man appeared at the Leominster police station in Herefordshire one evening. This station is located in a business complex and would have required some effort to visit. The man said he had information regarding Andrew, but as it was evening, the reception was not staffed and instead the man spoke to an intercom. Police appealed for his man to come forward, but he was never identified. Several sightings of Andrew were reported, and one of these – in Pizza Hut – was deemed highly credible. This sighting took place on the day of his vanishing, but police (again) didn’t chase this up in time. The woman’s recollection was not as clear as it would have been several weeks earlier.
As age-progressed photos, documentaries, posters, and reports of sightings continued to be released, no new evidence has ever come forward directly leading to Andrew. One possible breakthrough came in 2018, however, when a man calling himself Andy Roo appeared in a chat room asking for money. When asked why, he explained he needed to pay his rent. He went on to say he did not own a bank account, and that he had run away from home at age 14 because he ”just felt like it”. ”Roo” was a nickname Andrew had been given by his family, and this information was not released to the public in 2007. Sadly, this individual was never found, and the chatroom conversation remains a mystery.
In July 2008, 16-year-old Alexander ‘Gog’ Sloley vanished from Islington, London. Sloley was on his way to his own birthday party and had been staying at a friend’s house. He was never seen again.
No footage of Sloley was ever found detailing his movements. ”It was like he disappeared off the face of the planet” – one police offer said. Despite the police investigation, nothing was ever found. Sloley’s disappearance had even fewer clues than Gosden’s – and his fate remains unsolved.
Sloley was also a gifted maths student alone in London. His case was less than a year after Andrew vanished, and some theorize that the two cases are related. However, there has been no evidence linking the two young men, and this remains just a theory.
Andrew Gosden’s parents have kept his room just how it was when he vanished. Recently, he became the face of the Find Every Child campaign, and his face can be seen on posters around the UK today. Perhaps Andrew *is* still out there, somehow obtaining a new identity and a new life – perhaps he is walking our streets today. Perhaps he is your reclusive neighbour, or the quiet man sipping coffee in the background of your local cafe, or quiet friend that you vaguely know. I sincerely hope he is, despite the pain his potential lack of correspondence has caused his family.
Of course, there are more tragic fates that young Gosden could have experienced. However, until he is found, we will never know what happened to him.