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Constance Marten trial – latest: Aristocrat accused of killing newborn calls baby’s death a ‘horrible accident’

Marten and partner Mark Gordon deny gross negligence manslaughter of their daughter Victoria

Tara Cobham
Friday 15 March 2024 10:14 GMT
Police find Constance Marten’s baby in a rubbish-filled shopping bag

Aristocrat Constance Marten has called the death of her newborn baby a “horrible accident” that “could’ve happened to anyone”.

Marten, 36, and her partner Mark Gordon, 49, are on trial after their daughter Victoria died while they were camping on the South Downs in wintry conditions last year.

Following their arrests last February, the infant’s badly decomposed body was found in an allotment shed inside a Lidl supermarket bag that also contained soil and rubbish.

On Thursday, her fifth day of giving evidence in her trial, the mother was also cross-examined at the Old Bailey about the couple’s decision to buy a tent and live off grid to hide from authorities, telling jurors: “Babies don’t require that much to survive.”

The couple deny charges of gross negligence manslaughter of Victoria between 4 January and 27 February last year, charges of perverting the course of justice by concealing the body, along with concealing the birth of a child, child cruelty, and allowing the death of a child.

The trial resumes on Friday when the cross-examination of Marten is set to continue.


Trial adjourns for day

The trial of Constance Marten and Mark Gordon has adjourned for the day.

The cross-examination of Marten is set to resume at the Old Bailey tomorrow when the trial continues.

Tara Cobham, In Court14 March 2024 16:14

Marten admits to court Victoria ‘could’ve had better’ after death

Constance Marten has admitted to a court that her newborn daughter “could’ve had better” after she died.

During her cross-examination at the Old Bailey, the mother was questioned by the prosecution over the decision to put Victoria’s remains in a plastic ‘bag for life’ bag.

Prosecutor Joel Smith asked: “Is putting her in a ‘bag for life’ the best that anyone could give her?” Marten replied: “Of course it’s not.”

However, she caveated: “But that’s not my child… it’s a part of her, but it’s not her… I think we’re all more than our flesh, we’re spirit, our body is our casing.”

Pressed again, Marten told jurors: “After she passed away, of course she could’ve had better.”

The plastic Lidl bag in which the body of Constance Marten and Mark Gordon’s baby Victoria was found (Metropolitan Police)
Tara Cobham, In Court14 March 2024 16:12

Baby was sitting in own faeces when body put in plastic bag, mother suggests to court

Baby Victoria was sitting in her own faeces when her body was put in a plastic bag, her mother has suggested to a court.

A tearful Constance Marten was pushed by the prosecution over the state the newborn was left in after the 36-year-old admitted to putting her remains in a ‘bag for life’ bag.

Marten told the Old Bailey: “I found it too difficult to change her nappy after she passed, so I wrapped her in a blanket and put her in the bag. I had no intention of keeping her in the bag. I know it looks awful objectively – but neither of us were in the right frame mind.”

She said she feared at the time that people would think of her as an “evil woman who has just killed her child” once they found out about her daughter’s death.

Marten added: “We weren’t in a normal situation… it was a nightmare.”

Tara Cobham14 March 2024 16:06

Mother repeatedly tells court: ‘Babies don’t need that much'

The mother has repeatedly told the court that “babies don’t need that much” as she stands accused of the manslaughter of her newborn daughter alongside her partner Mark Gordon.

Marten told jurors at the Old Bailey as she gave evidence for a fifth day: “Babies don’t need that much – they need food, they need warmth, they need love. They can cope as long as me as a parent can give her what she needs.”

She added: “You don’t need that many items for a newborn baby.”

Tara Cobham14 March 2024 15:21

Marten calls baby’s death a ‘horrible accident’ that ‘could’ve happened to anyone’, jurors hear

Constance Marten has insisted that what happened to her baby “could’ve happened to anyone” as she described the newborn’s death as a “horrible accident”.

The mother told jurors it was her falling asleep that led to her daughter’s death. During cross-examination at the Old Bailey on Thursday, she said: “She died because I fell asleep.”

Rejecting the prosecution’s suggestion that she put Victoria in a position that endangered the infant, she said instead the baby’s death “was a horrible accident that happened,” adding: “It could’ve happened to anyone.”

She also refuted the notion that Victoria had died from hypothermia amid the wintry conditions of the tent the pair were living in alongside Mark Gordon on the South Downs.

Marten told the court: “She did not die of hypothermia – I would not have put my baby in a situation where she would have died from hypothermia.”

Tara Cobham14 March 2024 15:18

Mother insisting she gave best to Victoria says living in tent was ‘self-sacrifice’ for baby, court hears

Constance Marten has insisted she gave the best to her baby that anyone could as a court heard her describe living in tent as a “self-sacrifice” for newborn Victoria.

When discussing their time spent in wintry conditions in a tent on the South Downs, the mother was asked by the prosecution: “Is this the best anyone could’ve given her?” She replied, “Yes, because you don’t understand the situation we were in,” citing the intense media interest in their case and the incident when their car went up in flames.

Referring to their time living in the tent with Mark Gordon, she told the Old Bailey: “What we were doing was for Victoria – it was a self-sacrificing act. I did it because I loved her so much that I would’ve done anything to save her.”

Tara Cobham14 March 2024 14:55

Marten admits to jurors Victoria was not ‘constantly’against her skin while in tent

Constance Marten has admitted her baby was not “constantly” against her skin while the pair were in a tent in the South Downs in wintry conditions last year.

Pressing Marten, prosecutor Joel Smith put it to the mother that Victoria “wasn’t constantly against your skin”. The 36-year-old replied: “She was most of the time… there were moments when she wasn’t.”

Constance Marten has admitted her baby was not ‘constantly’ against her skin while the pair were in a tent in the South Downs in wintry conditions last year (PA Media)
Tara Cobham14 March 2024 14:41

Mother belives ‘babies don’t require that much to survive’, hears court

The mother has told the court she believes “babies don’t require that much to survive”.

As she is questioned over the conditions in the tent she and Mark Gordon lived in when they were on the run, Constance Marten told jurors at the Old Bailey: “People have survived without houses and hospitals for millennia. Babies don't require that much to survive – they just need food, warmth and care.”

Tara Cobham14 March 2024 14:35

Constance Marten returns to witness stand

Constance Marten has returned to the witness stand at the Old Bailey on her fifth day of giving evidence.

She continues to be cross-examined by prosecutor Joel Smith as she and Mark Gordon stand trial.

Tara Cobham14 March 2024 14:32

Court breaks for lunch

The trial has adjourned for a lunch break.

The cross-examination of Constance Marten is expected to continue.

Tara Cobham14 March 2024 13:37

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