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Runaway aristocrat ‘debated cremating dead baby with bottle of petrol’ after her daughter ‘died in her arms’
25 January 2024, 18:59 | Updated: 25 January 2024, 19:13
A runaway aristocrat bought petrol to cremate her baby after discovering she had died, a court was told today.
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Constance Marten and Mark Gordon allegedly concealed the birth of their baby girl, Victoria, after she became pregnant in 2022.
The pair went on the run in January last year in an alleged bid to stop her from being taken away by social services, the Old Bailey heard today.
The baby girl spent "much of her life" in a supermarket bag before she died, it was claimed today.
Victoria's body was later discovered in a Lidl big in an abandoned shed in the countryside, the court heard.
At this point, Marten had considered cremating her baby with a bottle of petrol after discovering she had died, the court was told.
The pair are on trial for the manslaughter of newborn Victoria. They deny the charges.
In her police interview, Marten said: "When I woke up I was like crouched over her like that, holding her and she wasn't moving when I woke up. I don't know how long I'd been asleep.
"I saw she wasn't moving and her lips had gone blue.
"And, yeah, I don't know how long we slept, I don't know why she didn't, make any noise, and it was just so tired, I don't know.
"Yeah. That's all I can say. I tried to resuscitate her, I tried to breathe in her mouth and pump her chest. And er, there was no response.
"So I wrapped her in a scarf and cradled her for a few minutes. I didn't know what to do."
Prosecutor Tom Little KC argued today that the case involved "the entirely avoidable death of a young baby".
The court was told that Marten, 36, and Gordon, 49, already had four children together, all of which had been taken into care.
Little said: "A young baby girl who would still, we say, be alive if it was not for the reckless, utterly selfish, callous, cruel, arrogant and ultimately grossly negligent conduct of the two defendants on trial.
"They were the parents of that young baby girl. They put their relationship and their view of life before the life of that little baby girl.
"Rather than act in the obvious best interests of a vulnerable baby, one that they should have cared for and looked after, they decided instead that they knew best.
"They decided that they knew better than anyone else. No matter who they were. They decided to ignore the advice they had previously been given.
"And it was their selfish desire to keep their baby girl that led inexorably to the death of that very baby."
Jurors were told that Marten and Gordon "deprived" Victoria of "what she needed", which included "warmth, shelter and good, and ultimately safety".
The pair were accused of going "off-grid" in the middle of a "cold winter and in cruel and obviously dangerous weather conditions".
Mr Little went on: "When the hunt by the authorities to find them, which became national front page news almost exactly a year ago, intensified- so their desperate selfishness increased and so did the risks and dangers to that baby.
"This led to them camping in freezing and obviously dangerous conditions on the South Downs with insufficient clothing, equipment and food never once seeking any medical attention or assistance.
"And it was this grossly negligent and obviously dangerous conduct that caused the death of their baby daughter and which leads to them sitting before you on trial at the Old Bailey."
The trial is expected to go on until March 8.