Constance Marten claims baby death was 'terrible accident' and says 'influential family' supported social services

14 March 2024, 19:38 | Updated: 16 March 2024, 23:31

Runaway aristocrat Constance Marten (left) has claimed her baby's death was a 'terrible accident'
Runaway aristocrat Constance Marten (left) has claimed her baby's death was a 'terrible accident'. Picture: Alamy

By Christian Oliver

Runaway aristocrat Constance Marten has claimed her baby's death was a 'terrible accident', telling jurors that her "influential" family members with "connections in high places" supported social services when they took her children into care.

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Marten, 36, is standing trial at the Old Bailey over the death of her newborn baby Victoria while on the run from authorities with her partner Mark Gordon, 49.

Repeatedly questioned over the death in court today, she told prosecutors: "You want something sinister to have happened when the truth is it was a terrible accident."

Four of Marten and Gordon's children had already been taken into care and the pair were determined to keep their fifth child.

Newborn Victoria died in January last year after the couple run away, with police launching a manhunt for both Marten and Gordon when a placenta was found in their burnt-out car on a motorway roadside near Bolton, Greater Manchester.

Victoria's decomposed body was later found in a Lidl bag in an allotment shed in Brighton, East Sussex. Marten and Gordon were found and taken into custody.

The cause of the newborn's death is "unascertained", but jurors have today been told that she may have died from the cold or co-sleeping.

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Constance Marten appearing at the Old Bailey, March 7, 2024
Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Constance Marten appearing at the Old Bailey, March 7, 2024. Picture: Alamy

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Speaking in court on Thursday, Marten told jurors she was "not a disgruntled parent" but did disagree with the findings in her children's case.

"It's abhorrent. My case might not be the same as other parents. The problem I had was I was not just up against social services but family members who were very influential with huge connections in high places including Parliament," she said.

"If they said to social services 'jump', social services will say 'how high'.

"They were highly embarrassed about the fact I had children with Mark and the fact they do not come from an upper class, privileged background."

She claimed her family members would go to "any lengths" to get what they wanted.

Marten was also asked about lies she had told when giving birth to one of her children in hospital, saying that she "had to come up with a reason" why she was in hospital "without having been on an NHS database. That's why I had to have the Irish Traveller background."

She continued: "I knew my family will stop at nothing because they disagree with my choices."

Constance Marten's brother Tobias Marten and her mother Virginie de Selliers arrive at the Old Bailey, January 25, 2024
Constance Marten's brother Tobias Marten and her mother Virginie de Selliers arrive at the Old Bailey, January 25, 2024. Picture: Alamy

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She added: "I would be prepared to lie to save my children. I would throw myself in front of a bus to save my children. I would do whatever I have to do to save my children."

Prosecutor Joel Smith challenged Marten's claim Victoria died last January 9, suggesting she was alive at least until mid-January.

"It's ridiculous. If she was alive longer I would have said so. She died on the 9th," she replied as she cast doubt on eyewitnesses who claimed to have seen them, saying they were "curtain twitchers".

Mr Smith said: "You lied about the date because you knew you kept her out in the cold, the outdoors and she got cold." Marten asserted that people have been living outdoors for millennia.

"The issue here is it's just not true. This is the narrative the prosecution have been wanting to portray from day one because the police made such a big deal in the press," she said.

Mr Smith said: "Victoria had her teddy bear onesie and nothing more. She did not have enough clothes for a winter walk, let alone roaming the country."

The prosecutor asserted that sleeping with her and Gordon in a tent was a "thoroughly dangerous" thing to do - which Marten denied.

Mr Smith said: "You decided to put your child face down on your chest, zipped up. That was no accident. Did you not think that was dangerous?" Marten also denied this.

Mr Smith went on: "Given you could roll in your sleep, given Mr Gordon could roll in your sleep, given the crowded nature in the tent, did you not think that was dangerous?"

Marten replied: "She was fine."

Mr Smith asserted: "You had reduced yourself to a position where you could not possibly care for that child. "Your account to police was to cover up your neglect after the event." Marten also denied the claim.

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