Constance Marten's partner advised fugitive aristocrat to say baby was victim of 'cot death', court told

19 February 2024, 17:06 | Updated: 20 February 2024, 00:04

Marten (top right) told police she and Gordon (bottom right) were both "distraught" when their baby Victoria died.
Marten (top right) told police she and Gordon (bottom right) were both "distraught" when their baby Victoria died. Picture: Met Police
Jasmine Moody

By Jasmine Moody

Fugitive aristocrat Constance Marten was advised by her partner to say their baby was the victim of "cot death", after the child died in her arms as she slept, a court has heard.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Marten, 36, and Mark Gordon, 49, went on the run with their daughter Victoria after their car burst into flames near Bolton, Greater Manchester, last January.

The Old Bailey has heard how they went on to sleep in a tent, in a bid to keep the baby, after Marten's four other children were taken into care.

When the couple were eventually arrested in Brighton, East Sussex, they initially refused to say where their child was or whether she was alive or dead.

Last year, on March 1, Victoria's remains were found in a Lidl supermarket bag inside a disused shed on an allotment.

Pc Ralph said the baby was "very pale" and "very cold" to the touch.
Pc Ralph said the baby was "very pale" and "very cold" to the touch. Picture: Met Police

Pc Allen Ralph, who was involved in the search, told jurors he had already seen earlier CCTV footage of the Lidl bag before being sent to the allotments.

As he approached the shed, he said he noticed a broken window and lifted the door to get in.

The first thing to hit was the smell, he said: "I remember saying 'either something is dead in there or something has died'."

Inside there was a tent, out-of-date milk and bread on a makeshift table and the shopping bag underneath, he said.

Pc Ralph told his partner during a break that he recognised the bag so they went back to take a closer look.

He told jurors: "I lifted it and it was heavy and there was no reason for it to be heavy from what I could see inside.

"I remember quite clearly there was just a lot of rubbish."

Pc Ralph said there were two baby nappies, a pink baby blanket, drinks cans, cardboard, leaves and other pieces of rubbish.

Read more: Shocking moment runaway aristocrat Constance Marten's baby was discovered amid rubbish in Lidl bag

Read more: 'Where is your child?' Dramatic moment police arrest runaway aristocrat as partner demands food and drink

He told jurors he put on gloves before placing the bag on decking outside the shed to examine the contents, with his colleague indicating that he had seen what looked like the head of a doll.

"Mark advised me to say it was a cot death and I was not holding her," Marten told court.
"Mark advised me to say it was a cot death and I was not holding her," Marten told court. Picture: Met Police

Pc Ralph said: "The head was to the left. It was concave, the top of the head. That was what we touched. I unwrapped it two or three times before I got to a part where I could see red pooling.

"A couple of seconds after, we went to the right-hand side. I put my hand down. My hand slipped on something. I looked and that was the baby's leg. My hand was soaking wet."

Pc Ralph said the baby was "very pale" and "very cold" to the touch.

In the following police interviews, Marten gave an account of how Victoria had died six or seven days after the car fire.

She told police that she had been "extremely tired" and had fallen asleep in a tent while holding Victoria under her jacket.

When she woke up, Victoria had gone "limp" and did not respond to resuscitation attempts, the defendant said.

Marten said she did not seek help because the child was no longer alive.

She said she wrapped the baby up and held her for hours before putting her in a bag.

Moment police uncover baby remains amid rubbish in Lidl bag is shown in court

She said: "Initially Mark and I were talking about what to do with the situation and I think, like two weeks after it happened, I was debating whether to hand myself in.

"Mark advised me to say it was a cot death and I was not holding her.

"And he advised me to say that I lay her down and then when we woke up she was on her front and she's passed away.

"But that isn't what happened. So he may try to say that in order to protect me because he wants to protect my interests."

Marten told police she and Gordon were both "distraught" when Victoria died.

She said she felt "shock, sadness, grief and anger" that they had done so much to keep her and it "ended really badly".

The defendant said she left the bag containing Victoria's body at the allotment when it became too heavy to carry.

She covered the child's body in soil because of the smell, jurors heard.

Marten told police she had planned to bury Victoria's body and considered cremating her - but changed her mind.

Constance Marten asked ‘where is your child?’ in dramatic arrest video

The defendant said that before the tragedy she had been "elated" to be with one of her children.

She added: "I was feeling fine. I was elated to be with her actually. To be with one of my children. With Mark, together and parenting."

They had not intended to stay in a tent for long and the baby had warm blankets and clothes, she said.

But Marten told officers that they found themselves "between a rock and a hard place".

"We had limited cash. I knew that I couldn't access the bank because then the police would know where I was."

She added: "We were trying to figure out what to do in terms of getting a house, accessing money without the authorities finding out where we were."

Marten went on to tell police Gordon was her "soulmate", having met in London and had a marriage ceremony in Peru around seven years ago.

She said: "We met in a shop actually in London. Yeah, then we went for coffee and it just went from there. Got lots of similarities so, same perspectives on life, things like that."

She complained about her children being taken away after she accidentally "fell from a window".

She also blamed family members for getting social services involved, saying: "Because I was trying to get away from my family and they had, hired private investigators, my grandmother left me quite a bit of money in trust when she passed away."

Marten and Gordon, of no fixed address, deny manslaughter, perverting the course of justice, concealing the birth of a child, child cruelty and causing or allowing the death of a child.

The trial continues.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Breaking
Breaking News

Man arrested after man ‘threatened to blow himself up’ outside Iranian consulate in Paris

The Canary Islands tourism minister has urged British holidaymakers not to cancel their trips.

Canary Islands plead with British holidaymakers not to cancel trips despite surge in anti-tourism protests

Breaking
Nicola Sturgeon speaks to the media (l) after husband Peter Murrell (pictured with her right) charged over SNP finance probe

Nicola Sturgeon breaks silence after husband Peter Murrell charged in SNP finance probe

Women who have been filmed covertly on nights out are being asked to contact police

Women urged to contact police over 'misogynistic' Manchester nightlife videos as clips surface from other cities

Italy G7 Foreign Ministers

Israel ‘gave US last-minute warning about drone attack on Iran’

Pictures of the Week Global Photo Gallery

Iran fires air defence batteries at two sites after drones spotted

Building on fire

Ukraine claims it shot down Russian bomber as Moscow’s missiles kill eight

Signs twinning Bournemouth with Israeli city mysteriously vanish as police probe apparent hate crime

Signs twinning Bournemouth with Israeli city mysteriously vanish as police probe apparent hate crime

Antonio Tajani

G7 foreign ministers warns of new sanctions on Iran and urge de-escalation

Boris Johnson breached rules for former ministers, watchdog rules

Boris Johnson breached government rules by being ‘evasive’ about links to hedge fund

The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology has 31 tracks

The hidden meaning behind tracks on Taylor Swift's new album as superstar blasts exes Joe Alwyn and Matty Healy

Passengers on London's transport network should be thrown off if they play music out loud, Susan Hall says

People who play music out loud on London transport ‘to be thrown off’ says Tory Susan Hall as mayoral race hots up

Google HQ

Japanese doctors demand damages from Google over ‘groundless’ reviews

EU proposes a deal on free movement for young people

Brussels offers the UK a free movement deal that would give young Britons the right to live in the EU

‘Not fair on taxpayers’: PM to unleash ‘sick-note squads’ as he tells Brits ‘you don’t get anything in life without hard work’

PM to unleash ‘sick-note squads’ as he tells Brits ‘you don’t get anything in life without hard work’

Air defences

Russia pummels exhausted Ukrainian forces ahead of springtime advance