Constance Marten's baby 'may have come to serious harm', police say, as aristocrat and partner remain in custody

1 March 2023, 06:04 | Updated: 1 March 2023, 15:00

Police are still searching for the missing baby
Police are still searching for the missing baby. Picture: Getty/Alamy

By Kit Heren

Police have admitted that Constance Marten's missing baby may have come to "serious harm" as the aristocrat and her sex offender partner remain in custody.

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Ms Marten and Mark Gordon were arrested on suspicion of gross negligence manslaughter on Tuesday, after being detained earlier on suspicion of child neglect.

Officers want to keep them in custody for another 36 hours as they continue to investigate the whereabouts of their child.

Detective Superintendent Lewis Basford said on Wednesday afternoon: "An application for the extension of their detention for a further 36 hours has been sought from Brighton Magistrates Court.

He told reporters: "The police searches for the baby continue and we must consider that the baby has come to serious harm."

The Met's specialist crime command is leading the investigation. Officers are looking around the South Downs and in Newhaven as well as around north and east Brighton.

Police giving an update on Wednesday
Police giving an update on Wednesday. Picture: Alamy

Hopes of finding the two-month-old infant alive are fading after Ms Marten and Mark Gordon were caught in Brighton on Monday following 54 days on the run.

More than 200 officers and stewards from Premier League have joined the search for Constance Marten's missing baby as police continue to quiz the aristocrat and her partner.

Police have said the search may not end ‘in the way we would like’ and Detective Superintendent Lewis Basford said it was possible the baby had 'come to harm' because the couple had not revealed its location despite being questioned for a 'significant period of time'.

Ms Marten and her partner Mark Gordon were arrested on suspicion of child neglect when they were found on Monday night.

Officers still searching for Constance Marten's baby
Officers still searching for Constance Marten's baby. Picture: Getty

The were further arrested on suspicion of gross negligence manslaughter, indicating that hope of finding the missing tot alive was beginning to fade.

More than 200 police officers have been searching an area of seven miles by 13 miles for the baby, from where the couple were last sighted to where they were arrested - including allotments and woodland.

After police searched the whole of Roedale Valley Allotments and moved searches to the South Downs, the allotment’s society posted on Facebook: “The police will be on site for some time to come so please do not go as you will not be allowed on site. “As soon as this changes We will let you know.

“The police have had to break into every shed in their search for the missing baby which is understandable so when we are allowed on site please secure your shed as you see fit.

Police looking through an allotment
Police looking through an allotment. Picture: Getty

“ In the mean time the police are tonight guarding the whole site so don’t worry.

“They will let us know when we are allowed back. I have been particularly upset with some comments I have received today from some tenants of an uncaring nature.

“I will not tolerate any negative nonsense at this time nor is speculation helpful nor people just wandering up to have a look. Please stay away and let the police do their job."

Hundreds of police officers are hunting for the baby
Hundreds of police officers are hunting for the baby. Picture: Alamy

Detective Superintendent Lewis Basford said police still hoped to find the child safe and well, with a helicopter, sniffer dogs, thermal imaging cameras and drones being used in the search.

Read more: Transgender rapist Isla Bryson will serve sentence at notorious men's prison which houses murders and paedophiles

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

In a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, he said "this may not end in the way that we would like" as the couple had refused to reveal its location despite being questioned for a "significant period of time".

A pair of pink child's earmuffs are found in Roedale Valley Allotments, Brighton
A pair of pink child's earmuffs are found in Roedale Valley Allotments, Brighton. Picture: Alamy

He said the odds of locating the newborn alive were diminishing by the hour, adding: "If you know where this baby is, talk to us."

The couple are said to still be refusing to cooperate with police.

However, Supt Basford urged members of the public with information on the baby's whereabouts to come forward, and said a £10,000 reward was still being offered by police for information that leads to the child being found safe.

Police search woodland in hunt for missing baby after mother and boyfriend arrested

He said police couldn't rule out the possibility that the couple came across someone sympathetic to their plight.

He said: "Whilst we still have hope the baby can be found safe and well we must maintain that hope.

"In terms of the coldness and the impact that would have on a baby then clearly the risk is getting higher and we have to be open to the fact this may not end in the way we would like."

He said: "We always have to keep an open mind in he investigation. It is a reason why we offered the £10,000 reward and that reward remains open."

Police at the scene this morning at Stanmer Villas in Brighton
Police at the scene this morning at Stanmer Villas in Brighton. Picture: LBC

It's believed the pair, who are thought to have been living rough for the last two months in the Sussex Downs area, may have abandoned the baby while looking for supplies.

Constance, 35, who is from a wealthy family with links to the royals, and Mark Gordon, 48, were held in a residential street in Brighton after being spotted by a member of the public last night after almost two months on the run.

Huge numbers of police were deployed to search the woodland and allotments in Brighton yesterday after temperatures fell to -1C overnight.

Officers involved in the operation were pictured collecting a pair of pink child's earmuffs from the scene on Tuesday.

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

The child has not had any medical attention since its birth in early January, the Metropolitan Police has said.

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.

Police were also searching a nearby allotment
Police were also searching a nearby allotment. Picture: Alamy

Police were also believed to be hunting in the Stanmer Park Nature Reserve out of the city, close to Brighton and Hove Albion's Amex Stadium.

Ms Marten, 35, and Mr Gordon, 48, had been travelling around the UK by taxi since their car was found burning on the M61 in Bolton, Greater Manchester, on January 5.

Police release footage of last sighting of Constance Marten

Authorities previously believed the couple had been sleeping rough in a blue tent, and had avoided being traced by the police by moving around frequently and keeping their faces covered in CCTV images.

The couple travelled from Bolton to Liverpool, then to Harwich in Essex, then to east London and then to Newhaven in Sussex, where they were seen near the ferry port on January 8.

Ms Marten's father said it was a huge relief that his daughter had been found but it was "very alarming" that her baby remained missing.

Napier Marten told the Independent he loves his daughter but it would have been "far better" if she and Mr Gordon had handed themselves in earlier.

Ms Marten with the baby
Ms Marten with the baby. Picture: Social media

Ms Marten was a promising drama student when she first met Mr Gordon in 2016.

Since then the couple have led an isolated life, and in September, when Ms Marten was well into her pregnancy, began moving around rental flats.

Gordon served 20 years in prison in the US for rape and battery committed when he was 14.

On Saturday, January 7 they then went to Flower and Dean Walk near Brick Lane where they dumped a number of items, including the pushchair.
On Saturday, January 7 they then went to Flower and Dean Walk near Brick Lane where they dumped a number of items, including the pushchair. Picture: Metropolitan Police

It is unknown if their baby was full-term or has any health issues.

The mother of Ms Marten previously shared an emotional open letter to her daughter.

"You are not alone in this situation. We will support you in whatever way we can," Virginie de Selliers pledged.

She added: "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."

She continued: "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.

Read more: Husband of Epsom College head Emma Pattison who killed her and their young daughter 'took his own life with shotgun'

Read more: Partially-sighted woman with cerebral palsy convicted of manslaughter after elderly cyclist killed

"I want to help you and my grandchild. You deserve the opportunity to build a new life, establish a stable family and enjoy the same freedoms that most of us have.

"Constance, I will do what I can to stand alongside you and my grandchild. You are not alone in this situation. We will support you in whatever way we can.

"I am ready to do what it takes for you to recover from this awful experience so you can thrive and enjoy motherhood.

"I love you and miss you, Mum xx."

Anyone with information that could assist the search is asked to call 999.

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