Detectives probing the disappearance of a teenage boy who went missing almost 15 years ago have arrested two men on suspicion of kidnap and human trafficking.
Andrew Gosden vanished from Doncaster in September 2007 aged 14 and the mystery surrounding his disappearance has been one of the most high-profile missing persons cases of the last 20 years.
The straight-A student was last seen on CCTV at King’s Cross in September 2007 at around 11.20am the same day – but the reason for him heading to the capital and his whereabouts have since remained a mystery.
His father, Kevin, previously feared that a child sex ring was involved in Andrew’s abduction. But despite national TV and radio appeals, poster and e-mail campaigns, he has not been seen since.
Now, detectives have confirmed they arrested two men in London, assisted by officers from the Metropolitan Police, on Wednesday, December 8.
South Yorkshire Police said a 45-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of kidnap, human trafficking and the possession of indecent images of children. And a 38-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of kidnap and human trafficking. Both have now been released under investigation while enquiries continue.
Andrew, who would be 28 now, disappeared on September 14, 2007 – just four months after Madeleine McCann had gone missing in May.
Andrew Gosden (pictured) was just 14 when he vanished after he left his house in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, withdrew £200 and bought a one-way ticket to London
Kevin Gosden (right) and wife Glenys (left), have commissioned their own searches over the years in a bid to find Andrew
The straight-A student was last seen on CCTV at King’s Cross in September 2007, but his reason for heading to the capital and his whereabouts have remained a mystery
Now, detectives have confirmed they arrested two men, assisted by officers from the Metropolitan Police, on Wednesday, December 8
A statement issued on behalf of Andrew Gosden’s family on Twitter said: ‘It is a difficult time for Andrew’s family who currently know no more than what is written in the article.
‘Police investigations will be ongoing for quite a while and we respectfully ask you to give them your support and consideration whilst this takes place.’
Andrew left his home in the Balby area of Doncaster on September 14 and was seen heading down Littlemoor Lane, towards Westfield Park, at around 8.30am.
Once his parents had left for work, Andrew returned home and changed out of his school uniform into casual clothes, consisting of a black Slipknot T-shirt, black jeans, and a black bag.
Around an hour later, he withdrew £200 from his bank account and boarded a London-bound train at Doncaster station.
He was captured on CCTV at Kings Cross station at around 11.20am the same day. That was the last known sighting of Andrew, and since then no information about his movements has been corroborated by police, despite a massive manhunt.
Happier times: Kevin Gosden (centre) pictured with daughter Charlotte and son Kevin, who has been missing for almost 15 years
Andrew’s face has featured in campaigns all across the country as missing persons charities have publicised his case everywhere from on milk cartons to buses. Kevin (pictured) previously said that police fixated on accusing him of involvement in Andrew’s disappearance, driving him into a deep depression
Kevin Gosden (front), with daughter Charlotte (middle) and wife Glenys (back), lighting a candle at the Altar of St James Church in Piccadilly, central London, where a service to mark the one year anniversary of his 14-year-old son’s disappearance too place in 2008
Video footage and witnesses reveal Andrew boarded a train at Doncaster and spent the journey playing on his handheld PlayStation. By around 11.45am, the 14-year-old was in London, hundreds of miles away from home and his family.
The contradictions in Andrew’s behaviour that day has led to conflicting theories about whether he had decided to run away, or if he was on a day trip that went horribly wrong.
One theory is that Andrew had arranged to meet a friend or attend a concert in the capital when something or someone happened to him, but no evidence of a plan has ever been uncovered.
A more sinister suggestion is that Andrew was groomed by someone who had arranged to meet him in London that day. But again, no evidence of any communication with anyone on his plans has ever come to light.
Senior investigating officer, Detective Inspector Andy Knowles, said: ‘Our priority at this time is supporting Andrew’s family while we work through this new line of enquiry in the investigation.
‘We are in close contact with them and they ask that their privacy is respected as our investigation continues.
‘We have made numerous appeals over the years to find out where Andrew is and what happened to him when he disappeared.
‘I would encourage anyone with any information they have not yet reported to come forward.’
Despite national TV and radio appeals, poster and e-mail campaigns, he has not been seen since he disappeared in September 2007
South Yorkshire Police released a computer generated image of what he would Andrew could look like now back in 2019
Over the years since his disappearance, Andrew’s family has campaigned hard to try to find what had happened to him.
A search was made of the River Thames at one stage Experts even drew up artists’ impressions of what he would look like as an adult to try to update the search.
Timeline from the day Andrew Gosden disappeared
- Andrew left his home in the Balby area of Doncaster on 14 September 2007
- Once his parents had left for work he returned home and changed out of his school uniform
- He was seen at 8:30am as he headed down Littlemoor Lane, Balby, towards Westfield Park
- An hour later, he withdrew £200 and boarded a London-bound train at Doncaster station
- Andrew was last seen on CCTV at Kings Cross station at around 11.20am the same day – there have been no other confirmed sightings
- His family started campaigning to find what had happened to him
- A year after his disappearance, the head teacher at McAuley Catholic High School, Mary Lawrence, travelled to London with staff and pupils and distributed 15,000 leaflets
- Andrew’s family have kept his room as he left it and not changed the locks on the house as it is believed he took his key
- In September 2009, the family released computer-generated images of what Andrew might look like aged sixteen, to mark the second year of his disappearance
- In 2016, his parents appealed for information on BBC’s Panorama
- To mark the tenth anniversary, the charity Missing People made Andrew the face of their ‘Find Every Child’ campaign – featuring on billboards and advertisements throughout the UK
- On 12 September 2017, it was announced that police were launching a fresh appeal
- In July 2018, to mark Andrew’s 25th birthday, two updated age progression photographs were released by the family
- In October 2019, another updated image of Gosden was released
- During an episode on BBC’s Crimewatch Live – aired in March 2020 – Andrew’s father Kevin made fresh appeal for information
- Andrew’s family launch pre-Christmas appeal in November 2021 and said they ‘will never give up hope that they will one day find him’
South Yorkshire Police also released an updated computer-generated image of what Andrew may look like in 2019 in the hope renewed publicity might finally lead to the answers.
Andrew’s father Kevin previously told the Sunday People, police fixated on accusing him of being involved, meaning crucial time was lost.
He said: ‘It’s one of the horrifying thoughts that goes through your head even though you don’t want it there.
‘I feel that he was going to something and, somewhere along the line, he fell foul of somebody.’
He said he was also driven to the point that he attempted to kill himself, and was in no mental state to properly raise his daughter Charlotte.
Kevin added: ‘But because of my mental state after Andrew disappeared I was unable to be the dad I wanted to be while Charlotte was still at home.’
Kevin and wife Glenys thought their son had headed to London to ‘broaden his horizons’ and indulge his passion for visiting museums.
The Gosdens were both working as speech therapists when Andrew disappeared.
Kevin gave up work because he couldn’t ‘think straight’ and has struggled with depression ever since.
Andrew, who was predicted straight A*s in his GCSEs, had been earmarked for the government’s Gifted and Talented scheme, which aims to stretch top students.
He disappeared eight days into the new school term and was last seen on grainy CCTV footage leaving King’s Cross station – the only confirmed sighting of him.
In behaviour completely out of character, he had pretended to leave for McAuley Catholic High School as normal, returning home to get changed and then get a train to London.
Andrew’s bank account has not been used since he made the withdrawal on the morning of his disappearance.
Kevin issued a fresh appeal for information last year on The Missing Podcast in the hope renewed publicity might finally lead to answers.
Describing how it feels to still be searching all these years later, he said: ‘You know when your kids are little and you’re in a shopping centre, or on the beach or on the park or something and you lose sight of them for a minute? And you get that heart in your mouth, heart-wrenching, ‘oh my god, where are they’ sensation?
‘It’s that sensation just prolonged for hours, days, weeks, months and years, where you’re just absolutely panicking about making sure you’re kid’s safe.
‘The not knowing, the waking up every day for ever and ever wondering about his existence, even… It’s an extended torture.’
‘No traces were ever found of him communicating with anybody,’ Kevin said. ‘We never have found one shred of evidence that he had an event or destination in mind that he was communicating with anybody. It genuinely seems that whatever was going on in his head was only in his head.’
Kevin also struggles to accept that his son would put his family through the heartache of running away. Just a few weeks before his own disappearance, Andrew and Kevin spoke about Madeleine McCann, who had gone missing in May 2007.
‘I remember sitting on the sofa in our front room seeing the news of Madeleine McCanns disappearance unfolding and going ‘it must be every parent’s worst nightmare’,’ Kevin recalled. ‘And Andrew goes, ‘yeah, that’s awful’. And a few weeks later he disappears off the face of the Earth.’
As well as appealing for information, Kevin urged parents to remain vigilant and to discuss the issue of going missing with their own children.
He added: ‘This could happen to anybody. Like us, everything might seem perfectly comfortable and normal and yet, out of the blue this happens.
‘I encourage people to talk about this with their kids. It never, ever crossed our minds to talk about going missing.’