Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: UK
Front Page 
Northern Ireland 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
Friday, 10 December, 1999, 15:31 GMT
Schoolgirl's killer jailed for life

Merchistoun Hall Helen's body was found near Merchistoun Hall

A man has been jailed for life seven years after the rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl.

John Corcoran, 28, from Havant, near Portsmouth, Hampshire, was convicted of killing Helen Gorrie, whose half-naked body was found in the grounds of Merchistoun Hall community centre in Horndean, Hampshire on 2 August 1992.

The horrific discovery was made by a guest at a wedding reception.

After nine hours of deliberation the jury found him guilty by a majority decision.

'Determined to have sex'

Sentencing him to life imprisonment, Mr Justice Curtis said: "There is no doubt in my mind that you have got a very strong streak of arrogance in your character.

"On the night in question in 1992 you were determined to have sex with that 15-year-old girl whether she liked it or not.

Helen Gorrie Helen Gorrie paid dearly for her midnight tryst
"She rebuffed and resisted you and you strangled her."

Corcoran shook his head, buried his head in his hands and said: "I didn't do it, I didn't do it."

Afterwards, Helen's mother, Sheila Hunt, said she planned to rebuild her life after seeing justice finally done. She said: "I'm just so relieved."

Detective Inspector Colin Smith, who led the inquiry, said: "Helen was a popular, lively but vulnerable adolescent who was killed by a nasty and vicious man who preyed on young girls."

Helen disappeared from her home at about 2330 GMT on 30 July after telling her brother she was going out for a few minutes.

She had been getting ready to go to bed and wore an all-in-one nightdress beneath her clothing.

Corcoran, unemployed, was questioned by police a few days after the killing - his "business card" had been found in Helen's room.

John Corcoran John Corcoran continues to plead his innocence
Scratches were found his arm but he said they had been inflicted by his girlfriend and he was released due to lack of evidence.

He was rearrested in May last year.

Helen had met Corcoran the night before she died as he "cruised" the streets of Horndean in his battered Ford Escort car.

Diary entry

The following night he rang her and they agreed to meet at about midnight near Merchistoun Hall.

Corcoran's name and address Corcoran's home-made calling card
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."

On the night of 30 July Corcoran was again driving aimlessly around Horndean with his friends.

But he left them for up to 40 minutes, saying he had to meet someone.

What happened next is unclear. Corcoran apparently tried to force himself on Helen, she resisted and he strangled and smothered her with her own clothing.

The scratches on Corcoran's arm had been made by Helen as she fought for her life. Two false fingernails were also found at the murder scene.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
Links to other UK stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories