Unsolved Murders

Helen Gorrie

Age: 15

Sex: female

Date: 30 Jul 1992

Place: Merchistoun Hall Community Centre, Horndean, Hampshire

Source: news.bbc.co.uk

Helen Gorrie was found dead in the grounds of Merchistoun Hall community centre, Horndean, Hampshire on 2 August 1992.

An unemployed man was tried for her murder and convicted but later appealed and had his conviction quashed.

It was thought that Helen Gorrie had gone out to meet a person called John at 11.30pm on 30 July 1992. At the time she had been preparing to go to bed and when she went out she was wearing her all in one nightdress beneath her clothing. She had told her brother that she was going out for a few minutes. She had lived in Jodrell Close in Horndean.

Her mother said, 'Helen wouldn't have gone off with a stranger, she wouldn't have gone with someone she didn't know. She would not have gone in a stranger's car. She didn't go far away from home on her own. She always went with a gang, or with somebody she knew. Helen knew who her killer was. I am almost positive. Somebody has killed my daughter and they must be in a state of shock. They must live with a family, surely that family knows that something is wrong?'. Her mother then added, 'If she knew her killer, which I am sure she did, then he is still here in the village. Nobody has disappeared out of the community'.

Helen Gorrie was later found dead and half naked on 2 August 1992 at about 9pm, about 17 hours after she went missing, by wedding guests. She was found in the grounds of Merchistoun Hall community centre on a parkland footpath that was used as a short-cut by locals and was an area said to be popular with courting couples.

She had been strangled and smothered with her own clothing with her jumper having been pulled up and pressed over her neck and mouth. Her jeans had been pulled down around her ankles and her legs were forced over the back of her head in the 'folding press position,' leaving button imprints on her chin and neck.

Two of her false fingernails were found at the murder scene.

The medical evidence said that Helen Gorrie had been killed at least eight hours before she was found and possibly only minutes after she had gone out.

Merchistoun Hall community centre was minutes away from her home.

The last entry in her diary read: 'John phoned me up, the one I met last night. He wants me to go for a drive with him and his friends. At that time the unemployed man had been driving aimlessly around Horndean in his Ford Escort car with his friends and at one point was said to have left them for up to 40 minutes, saying he had to meet someone.

Helen Gorrie had met the unemployed man the day before outside a nearby pub and he had given her his business card which was later found in her room.

At the time of the murder the unemployed man was questioned over the murder, at which time he was found to have had scratches on his arm that were later said to have been caused in the struggle with Helen Gorrie but he was released due to lack of evidence.

It was noted that Helen Gorrie's 20-year-old brother was questioned over her murder, but released without charge.

However, the unemployed man was rearrested in May 1998 and charged with her murder.

It was noted that there was never any DNA evidence to link the unemployed man to the murder of Helen Gorrie. However, in 2003 it was reported that DNA analysis was being made on bloodstains found on Helen Gorrie's clothing. It was also reported in 1998 that the police had recovered DNA evidence from beneath Helen Gorrie's fingertips using techniques that were not available in 1992.

At his trial the judge said that the unemployed man had determined to have sex with Helen Gorrie whether she liked it or not and that when she rebuffed him, he strangled her.

At the trial the unemployed man was unable to account for the forty minutes that he had been absent. The court heard that the whole case rested on whether the unemployed man had been away from his three freinds for the 40 minute period. It was heard that his three friends had been stealing a wheel from a car in the car park of the Ship and Bell pub. However, it was not until the unemployed man was re-arrested for Helen Gorrie's murder in 1998 that the three men agreed to say that the unemployed man had, at that point, left them for a period of 20 to 40 minutes. The court heard that the entire case rested on whether or not the unemployed man had left his friends, with the defence stating that if he had styed with his friends then the Crown had no case.

The unemployed man was convicted of the murder on 10 December 1999, seven years after her murder, but his conviction was later overturned on 16 January 2003 on the grounds that mistakes were made during the trial and that the judge had failed to tell the jury in his summing up that the testimony of three prosecution witnesses was unreliable, and the crime now remains unsolved.

It was heard at the appeal that the three prosecution witnesses, the men that had been with the unemployed man on the evening in his car cruising around and had claimed that he had left them for a period of up to 40 minutes while they were stealing a wheel, had changed their minds in the witness box about whether the unemployed man had been with them whilst they were stealing the wheel.

After the unemployed man was acquitted of the murder, the police said that they had no plans to re-open the investigation.

However, in 2004, it was reported that the police were considering carrying out new DNA tests in a full-scale review of the case and were looking at possible lines of enquiry that were not properly pursued in the initial investigation.


*map pointers are rough estimates based on known location details as per Place field above.


see BBC UK Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

see Independent Police seek details of girl's last hours

see The News Police unlikely to reopen Gorrie murder case

see Youtube

see BBC

see Independent

see The Herald

see The Free Library

see Independent

see The News

see The News

see Newcastle Journal - Friday 07 August 1992

see Evening Herald (Dublin) - Monday 03 August 1992

see Liverpool Echo - Thursday 20 August 1992

see Liverpool Echo - Monday 03 August 1992