Constance Marten's baby 'was just 16 days old when she died,' court hears

26 January 2024, 13:34 | Updated: 26 January 2024, 13:40

Marten and Gordon are accused of manslaughter by gross negligence
Marten and Gordon are accused of manslaughter by gross negligence. Picture: Police/Facebook

By Fraser Knight

A new-born child found inside a carrier bag in Brighton last March was just 16 days old when she died, Constance Marten's trial has heard.

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The aristocrat and her partner Mark Gordon have denied gross negligence manslaughter, child cruelty and concealing the birth of a baby.

During the opening of their trial at the Old Bailey, a defence lawyer claimed arguments that they carried the child around - alive - in a Lidl carrier bag are false and that she died just one day after the family started sleeping in a tent in Sussex.

John Femi-Ola KC, representing Mark Gordon, told the court the couple says baby Victoria was born on Christmas Eve 2022 and died on 9th January 2023 - and that they had considered giving her a cremation.

He said: "The purchase of petrol on 12th January - why is it that the prosecution continues to exert that baby Victoria might have still been alive for several weeks after the 12th January?

Read more: Runaway aristocrat Constance Marten and lover Mark Gordon plead not guilty to baby daughter's manslaughter

"Is it so that claims can be made that Victoria was carried around in a bag for life?"

In his opening statement to the jury, prosecutor Tom Little KC said the child was likely to have been born in a holiday cottage the couple had been staying in, in Northumberland.

Marten denies her charges
Marten denies her charges. Picture: Facebook

"They're thought to have left that property in something of a hurry on the 28th December. It was left in a mess but the bedding was found laundered in the washing machine," he told the Old Bailey.

The jury heard in evidence that Woodcutter Cottage had been rented by Ms Marten through for six nights over Christmas 2022, at a cost of £367.20.

A witness statement from its owner Maria Richardson revealed it was their first booking for the property and it was to check in on the same day.

Read more: Constance Marten and partner ‘camped off-grid’ with their baby in tent weeks before newborn's body was found

Mr Little read out extracts from the statement, in which Ms Richardson said: "My husband and I went to the cottage on 28th December and noticed the living room curtains were still closed.

"The first thing I noticed when we walked in was the candle wax all over the living room carpets.

"There were pans and glasses all over the place and the hob was caked with food, and there was food all over the floor.

"In the washing machine, the bedding had been washed. And there was what appeared to be cat litter on the floor.

Mark Gordon denies negligent manslaughter
Mark Gordon denies negligent manslaughter. Picture: Handout

"In the bedroom, the quilt had what looked like a red wine stain on it."

The jury has also heard details of four previous children had by heiress Marten and Gordon, all of which had been taken into care.

Tom Little KC said attempts were made by the couple to conceal their identities during their most recent births, including in the winter of 2017.

"When Constance Marten was in the early stages of labour with Child FF she and Mark Gordon presented at a hospital in Wales, where they gave false names," he said.

Ms Marten told hospital staff that she had travelled from Leeds to avoid her family and she spoke with a fake Irish accent through the birth. She said that she was from the travelling community and had been raised in a caravan.

The couple deny all the charges against them and the trial in front of Mark Lucraft KC is due to continue until March 8.