Constance Marten’s father: My immense relief she’s been found — and my fears for her missing baby

Exclusive: A huge search for the baby is underway as the couple has not told the police where the infant is, or even its gender

Martha McHardy,Lizzie Dearden
Tuesday 28 February 2023 14:18 GMT
Constance Marten: Police ask public to search their gardens for missing baby
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The father of runaway aristocrat Constance Marten has spoken of his “immense relief” that his daughter has been found but said he was extremely worried about her newborn baby, who is still missing .

Napier Marten, who issued two heartfelt pleas while his daughter was on the run with her convicted rapist partner, told The Independent that “whatever the weather, I love her dearly and will support her best I can”.

But he added that it would have been “far better if they had handed themselves in earlier”.

Ms Marten, 35, and her partner Mark Gordon, 48, are in police custody after being arrested in Brighton on suspicion of child neglect.

An urgent search operation is underway to find their baby, and the senior investigating officer has revealed that the couple have not told them where the infant is, or even its gender.

The Independent understands that police are drawing up a strategy for searching a vast area where the couple are feared to have abandoned their child.

Officers were initially working outwards from the location of their arrest in Stanmer Villas, on the outskirts of Brighton, combing allotments a short walk away on Monday morning.

Police wearing gloves were seen methodically working through plants and undergrowth at the site, which sits on the edge of a golf course that runs into a nature reserve, and then into the South Downs National Park.

Ms Marten and Gordon are believed to have travelled a significant distance on foot in the area, while sleeping in a tent, and investigators are working to retrace their steps - despite the pair’s efforts to conceal their movements.

Speaking exclusively to The Independent, Mr Marten said: “It is an immense relief to know my beloved daughter Constance has been found, tempered by the very alarming news her baby has yet to be found.

“For whatever reasons she and her partner went on the run, the consequences of their actions have increased many fold. It would have been far better if they had handed themselves in earlier.”

Police searching allotments near where Ms Marten and Gordon (PA)

Ms Marten and Gordon have been travelling around the UK by taxi since their car was found burning on the M61 in Bolton, Greater Manchester, on 5 January.

CCTV showed them hiding their faces from cameras and buying a tent to try and evade detection. They were eventually uncovered overnight when a member of the public recognised them in Brighton and raised the alarm.

Senior investigating officer Detective Superintendent Lewis Basford told BBC Breakfast he was seeking to find a shelter or “location for where they may have been holed up” in recent days.

“The arrest location was close to open land and the couple were moving towards that land,” he added. “That’s why we are focusing heavily on where we are right now. We know that they travel, we know they travel long distances.”

He has urged people in Brighton, Newhaven and areas between to be “vigilant” in open land and outbuildings.

Mr Marten said: “When the time comes, I am longing to see Constance to reassure her that, whatever the weather, I love her dearly and will support her as best I can through the difficult weeks and months here on in.”

Police searching for Constance Marten’s missing baby in Golf Drive, Brighton (Jordan Pettit/PA) (PA Wire)

“The police to whom I am profoundly grateful, committed great resources to try to find Constance, all of which, it was always hoped, could have been avoided.

“I would like to thank Det Supt Lewis Bashford and his team for their dogged investigation to bring her disappearance to a close. I would also like to thank the person or persons who called the Police when they saw the couple.”

Shortly after the couple disappeared in early January with their baby it transpired that Gordon was jailed in the late 1980s in Florida, US, after raping and assaulting a woman when he was 14.

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