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The horrifying moment police found Constance Marten’s baby in a rubbish-filled shopping bag

Aristocrat Constance Marten told police she went on the run to ‘protect’ her newborn daughter with Mark Gordon

Amy-Clare Martin
Crime Correspondent
Wednesday 14 February 2024 18:02 GMT
Moment Constance Marten arrested by police

Jurors have been shown the horrifying moment police discovered the remains of Constance Marten and Mark Gordon’s baby covered in leaves in a rubbish-filled shopping bag.

The infant, named Victoria, was found by officers in a disused allotment shed strewn with rubbish, out of date food and a blue tent, a court heard.

Police footage from body cameras played to the Old Bailey on Wednesday showed officers rifling through a tatty red Lidl carrier bag, pulling out nappies and an old Budweiser beer can before reaching into the bottom of the bag where the child’s body was discovered.

Marten, 36, who was in court wearing a pink blouse and black trousers, appeared to shake her head in the dock alongside Gordon, 49, after the distressing footage was played.

Police released body camera footage of the moment they found baby’s body (Metropolitan Police)

The couple both deny gross negligence manslaughter of their newborn daughter, whose remains were eventually found in the disused shed covered in rubbish “as if she was refuse”, the court heard.

The prosecution allege the couple’s “reckless and utterly selfish” behaviour led to the “entirely avoidable” death of the infant, after the pair spent weeks on the run living in a tent in freezing conditions to avoid the child being taken into care.

Giving evidence, PC Allen Ralph told the Old Bailey that the first thing he and a colleague noticed was the smell when he entered the shed in an abandoned area of a Brighton allotment on 1 March last year.

“I remember saying to him [his colleague] directly, either something is dead in there or something has died,” he told the court.

The officers discovered the bag for life tucked in a corner “out of the way” under a makeshift table – on which there was out of date milk and bread.

He added: “I lifted it and it was heavy and there was no reason for it to be heavy from what I could see inside.”

Jurors were shown redacted footage of the moment the infant was found in a Lidl bag (Metropolitan Police)

Asked what he could see, he continued: “To be fair I remember it quite clearly it was just a lot of rubbish. The only thing that made me bring it out more is I found two newborn baby nappies. That’s the first thing I could see.

“And then underneath that there was a pink rolled up bloody blanket. And then underneath that there was the rubbish, there was cans there was bottles. There were leaves – a lot of leaves – in the bag.”

PC Ralph said he saw what looked like the head of a doll in the bag, the court heard.

Forensics later arrived and confirmed the bag contained the remains of a deceased female infant.

Other items found in the bag included a quantity of soil and leaves, two golf club score cards, a bottle of petrol, a baby grow, a black blanket, some pages from the Sun newspaper dated 12 January, an old coke can and an egg mayonnaise sandwich packet with a 15 January use by date, the court heard.

Police found the child’s remains in a shed on an allotment in Hollingbury, Brighton (Metropolitan Police)

In footage played to the court of a tearful police interview after the baby was found, Marten referred to Gordon as her husband and broke down as she told officers how she fell asleep with the infant inside her jacket, before waking up to find her dead.

“I had her in my jacket and I hadn’t slept properly in quite a few days and I fell asleep holding her sitting up and when I woke up she wasn’t alive...I believe I fell asleep on top of her,” the court heard.

She told the officers she had wanted to hand herself in, but was worried about the media coverage, and kept her daughter’s body so she could have a post mortem examination, having considered burying her or cremating her with petrol.

“So I have been carrying her around not knowing what to do really,” she added.

Explaining why they fled after their car caught fire on the M61 on 5 January, leaving her handbag, £2000 and a placenta wrapped in a towel in the burnt out car, she responded: “I panicked and didn’t want them to know who I was because I assumed they would take Victoria away so we ran away from the scene.”

Constance Marten and Mark Gordon (PA)

She insisted wanted to keep the baby after her other four children were taken into care, telling the officer: “I wanted to keep her and parent her. I didn’t want...them to take her away from me.” She added: “Because my other four children were taken away from me so they would have taken her. I wanted to protect her from that.”

The tearful interview recorded at 9.15pm on 1 March came after she responded “no comment” in two previous police interviews after the couple was arrested on 27 February after almost eight weeks on the run, jurors were told.

In transcripts read to court, Gordon demanded to be treated with respect during a police interview as detectives were still searching for the baby, insisting: “I don’t think I should be talked to like a nobody.”

Jurors were told how Gordon refused to respond to questions about whether his child was dead or alive but demanded pain killers from police.

The Old Bailey heard he had seen a nurse about his swollen feet and numb hands before the interview began at Worthing Police station, but demanded to see a doctor.

“Like I’m getting sub-par treatment and I don’t think I should be talked to like a nobody…I should be treated with respect,” the court heard.

“I don’t appreciate being looked down on and talked to like I’m a nobody. Yes I’m in custody but it doesn’t mean I’m a nobody.”

The moment police arrested Constance Marten and Mark Gordon was captured on body-worn footage (Metropolitan Police)

Last week the court heard how Marten claimed her name was Arabella and told police “you can’t arrest someone for hiding a pregnancy” after she was arrested in Brighton at 9.35pm on 27 February.

The aristocrat was also heard begging “please stop - he’s not been well” as Gordon was handcuffed and pinned to the ground after they were spotted by a member of the public.

The couple were heard telling each other they loved one another shortly after they were captured by police, the court heard.

The pair both deny manslaughter by gross negligence of their daughter between 4 January and 27 February last year.

They also deny charges of perverting the course of justice by concealing the body, concealing the birth of a child, child cruelty and allowing the death of a child.

The infant’s remains were found in a plastic bag in a locked shed at an overgrown allotment in the Hollingbury area of Brighton on 1 March. The discovery came after Marten and Gordon were arrested in nearby Stanmer Villas.

The trial, scheduled to last until 8 March, continues.

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