How the 54-day hunt for missing aristocrat Constance Marten and her sex offender partner unfolded

28 February 2023, 15:17 | Updated: 1 March 2023, 09:56

Constance Marten and Mark Gordon were missing for nearly two months
Constance Marten and Mark Gordon were missing for nearly two months. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

Aristocrat Constance Marten and her sex offender partner Mark Gordon have been arrested after being missing for 54 days. Here's a full timeline of what happened.

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Constance Martin and Mark Gordon disappeared with their newborn baby on January 5 after their car caught fire on the motorway.

Police are still searching for their baby even though the couple have been caught.

Questions have been raised of how Ms Marten, 35, and Mr Gordon, 48, could have evaded the police's clutches for so long.

Below LBC looks at the full timeline and how the hunt for the missing couple and their baby unfolded as they travelled across the UK.

Constance Marten has been found but her infant is still missing
Constance Marten has been found but her infant is still missing. Picture: Social media

'I love her dearly': Father of Constance Marten 'immensely relieved' she's been found but fears grow for missing baby

January 5

Ms Marten and Mr Gordon's car was found burning on the M61 in Bolton, Greater Manchester, on January 5.

Police found most of the belongings destroyed, but Ms Marten's passport was still relatively intact.

Blood and placenta were also found on the back seat, indicating Ms Marten had given birth.

Read more: Police scour woods and allotments for aristocrat's baby as arrested couple refuse to reveal location of child

Read more: 'I love her dearly': Father of Constance Marten 'immensely relieved' she's been found but fears grow for missing baby

Read more: Constance Marten and boyfriend still silent on baby’s location 18 hours on from their arrest after using cashpoint

January 6

Ms Marten and Mr Gordon then walked on foot to the Anchor Lane bridge, near the motorway.

They travelled from there to Liverpool and then to Harwich in Essex in a taxi.

Greater Manchester Police released a public appeal at 12.49pm - 18 hours after they disappeared - to try and find the pair.

The appeal featured pictures of Ms Marten and Mr Gordon from GMP's head of public protection chief superintendent Michaela Kerr.

She said: "As a mum, I would like to make a direct appeal to Constance. Constance, I know this is an exceptionally hard time for you and you are likely feeling scared but I promise that our number one priority is the same as yours – to keep your beautiful new born safe.

"As you know, it's really important that both you and your baby are assessed by medical professionals as soon as possible so please make contact with emergency services or make your way to your nearest hospital, wherever that may be."

Mark Gordon and Constance Marten walking through Flower and Dean Walk near Brick Lane
Mark Gordon and Constance Marten walking through Flower and Dean Walk near Brick Lane. Picture: Alamy

January 7

CCTV footage showed Ms Marten and Mr Gordon at Harwich Port, 200 miles from where their car was found.

Essex Police, now liaising with GMP, said: "Since 9.30am we've been carrying out extensive enquiries in Essex to locate Constance, Mark and their newborn child.

"GMP is lead force and we will do all we can to help."

Constance Marten was seen in Harwich, Essex this morning
Constance Marten was seen in Harwich, Essex this morning. Picture: GMP

January 9

British Transport Police joined the search, as Essex Police took over. Officers search every hotel in the Harwich area, adding that they "do not want to disrupt [the couple's] family life".

Detective Chief Inspector Rob Huddleston said in an appeal: "Clearly, the overriding concern that we share with our colleagues at Greater Manchester Police is for Mark and Constance's new-born child.

"We do not wish to interrupt their family life; this search is primarily to ensure the welfare of the couple's child.

"We are carrying out a number of enquires in and around Colchester in order to locate them. I would ask the people of Colchester, and indeed wider north Essex, to please familiarise yourself with Mark and Constance's faces and report any sightings to us immediately."

Ms Marten's family were the previous owners of Crichel Estate in Dorset.
Ms Marten's family were the previous owners of Crichel Estate in Dorset. Picture: Alamy

January 11

It emerges that Ms Marten is from an aristocratic family with links to the royals, although she has not been in touch with her family for some time.

Ms Marten's grandmother is Mary Anna Marten, whose godmother was the Queen Mother. Miss Marten is the great-granddaughter of Captain Napier Sturt, Baron Alington.

Her father was a page to Queen Elizabeth but renounced the family's £115 million fortune, saying a voice in his head told him "to shave my head and go to Australia".

It was later reported that Ms Marten featured in society magazine Tatler when she was 21 as "Babe of the Month" and said her special skill was "crunching a Coke can between my shoulder blades".

She added that the best party she had been to was a Bacchus-themed bash thrown by one Viscount Cranbourne.

Police release footage of last sighting of Constance Marten

January 13

The Met Police join the investigation, after Ms Marten and Mr Gordon are spotted with their baby outside East Ham Tube station in east London.

Officers issue another appeal for Ms Marten to get in touch with police for their sake and for their baby's health.

Met Police Detective Superintendent Lewis Basford said at the time: "It has now been more than a week since Constance and Mark's car broke down on the M61, and we are growing increasingly concerned not only for their welfare, but for the welfare of their newborn child.

"Being on the move for a week must be exhausting for new parents and a newborn baby. Constance and Mark, I appeal directly to you, please think of your baby's health and wellbeing and get in touch with us so we can ensure your child is medically well and has no underlying issues.

"Please do this for your child. You wouldn't be able to forgive yourself if they became poorly. All we want to do is help you and your baby."

Constance Marten's father Napier
Constance Marten's father Napier . Picture: Social media

January 18

More details were reported on Mr Gordon's background. He is a convicted sex offender who served 20 years in prison in the US for sexual assault and battery.

He was convicted of these crimes in Florida, aged just 14.

January 19

Ms Marten's father Napier Marten issued a personal appeal for his "darling" daughter to come home.

The film producer said: "Darling Constance, even though we remain estranged at the moment, I stand by, as I have always done and as the family has always done, to do whatever is necessary for your safe return to us.

"I beseech you to find a way to turn yourself and your wee one in to the police as soon as possible, so you and he or she can be protected.

"Only then can a process of healing and recovery begin, however long it may take, however difficult it may be. We are deeply concerned for your and your baby's welfare.

"I would like you to understand that the family will do all that is needed for your wellbeing. And I also wish you to understand you are much, much loved whatever the circumstances."

Mr Gordon in Brick Lane
Mr Gordon in Brick Lane. Picture: Alamy

January 20

A friend of Ms Marten said she had warned her to be careful after she previously dated a "vulgar" man.

Noisette Tahoun said: "I told her to stay away from such people because they take advantage of her; they don't love her for who she is."

She added: "When she falls in love she doesn't listen to anyone. I was not shocked when I heard she was missing. I know when she falls in love she goes anywhere with the person she loves.

"I've given her advice about it. I've warned her to take care of the people she gets close to."

January 21

More details emerge about Ms Marten and Mr Gordon's relationship.

The couple met in 2016 after Mr Gordon had been working as a labourer in London near where the then-drama student lived.

They began moving around the country in September 2022, staying in AirBnBs.

Officers also said they now believed the officers had not set fire to the car they were in, but that it suffered a mechanical fault.

Mark Gordon and Constance Marten being dropped off by a taxi on Whitechapel Road in London.
Mark Gordon and Constance Marten being dropped off by a taxi on Whitechapel Road in London. Picture: Alamy

January 22

Ms Gordon's half-sister said he was wrongly convicted in the US.

Karen said: "I think it is terrible what they are doing to him. He has done 20 years of persecution in a jail and now he is being persecuted publicly when he is just trying to start his life all over again.

"They are making it like Mark has kidnapped her and taken her off and that is not the way. I know my brother. 

"If I could say one thing to him it would be, 'Mark, reach out to one of us, reach out to me and let me know what is going on, I will do whatever I can to help'."

Meanwhile a friend of Ms Marten said she "changed" after spending time with a controversial Nigerian spiritualist, T.B. Joshua.

January 24

The Met police said the couple bought camping gear from Argos on Whitechapel Road in east London at 6.19pm on January 7.

Mr Gordon left the shop at 6.40pm and the couple walked around the area for three hours, trying to flag down taxis but were unsuccessful.

They walked away from the area and were last seen walking along Brick Lane at 10pm. 

Police said Mr Gordon often walked alone ahead of Ms Marten and her baby. This footage was the last official sighting of the trio before Ms Marten and Mr Gordon were caught.

January 31

A reward of £10,000 was offered by police searching for the trio.

Police had tracked them to Newhaven in East Sussex, where they were dropped off in a taxi at 4.56am on Sunday January 8.

Officers added they thought the couple had dumped the buggy in Flower and Dean Walk near Brick Lane shortly before midnight on January 7.

In a direct appeal to taxi drivers across the UK, police said that they need to be “observant” of who is in the back.

February 5

Police said the trio are believed to have been camping in the Sussex countryside.

The force said it had received around 300 calls in the operation to find the pair and their baby, but "sadly they have not led to the couple and their baby being found".

It reiterated its appeals for information, stating that concern for the wellbeing of all three "continues to grow".

Addressing the couple directly, the Met's Detective Superintendent Basford said: "Constance and Mark, your baby has spent the first month of its short life exposed to the elements when it should be safe and warm and, most importantly, seen by medics.

"After a month you must be running low on cash. Please pick up the phone and let us know, at the very least, that you are okay."We are ready to come to you and see that you and the baby get medical attention."

February 7

Ms Marten's mother issued an emotional appeal for her daughter to come home.

Writing to her daughter, Virginie de Selliers said: "You are not alone in this situation. We will support you in whatever way we can."

She said in a letter: "I know you well enough; you are focused, intelligent, passionate and complex with so much to offer the world.

"So many of your friends have come forward to say such positive things about you, assuring us of their warmest love and support for you and your family.

"You have made choices in your personal adult life which have proven to be challenging, however I respect them, I know that you want to keep your precious new-born child at all costs.

"With all that you have gone through this baby cannot be removed from you but instead needs looking after in a kind and warm environment."

February 14

Ms Marten's father urged police looking for his daughter to check with the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Lagos, where she lived for six months with spiritualist T.B. Joshua for six months.

He said: "I remain deeply concerned for Constance, some five weeks after she and her baby went on the run.

"I just want them to be safe. I urge Constance, once more, to find the courage to turn herself in to the police."

February 21

Officers issued another appeal for Ms Marten to turn herself in.

Det Supt Lewis Basford said: “My officers and I remain absolutely committed to finding Constance, Mark and their newborn baby. We’ve been working around the clock behind the scenes and we’ve viewed more than 630 hours of CCTV as part of our efforts to find them.

Police searching the area in Brighton after the arrest of Constance Marten and her partner
Police searching the area in Brighton after the arrest of Constance Marten and her partner. Picture: Alamy

February 27

The couple were finally tracked down and arrested after two months on the run - but with no sign of the baby.

The pair were located by officers from Sussex Police in Stanmer Villas, a quiet road just north of Brighton city centre, on Monday night after a member of the public reported seeing them shortly before 9.30pm.

So far, Marten and Gordon, 48, have not cooperated with police or told them what has happened to the baby. Police are scouring the local area to find the newborn.

Ms Marten's father Napier 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."

The couple was being held in a street in Brighton while officers search a "vast" area of woodland and allotments in the town.

A pair of pink earmuffs have been found at Roedale Valley Allotments as police desperately try to find a trace of the missing infant. Temperatures plunged to -1C overnight.

"It is a vast area. We are looking at the local vicinity to where the couple were arrested last night," the Met's Det Sup Lewis Basford said.

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