Constance Marten tearfully tells court: 'I would prefer my daughter had her whole life ahead of her'

11 March 2024, 15:44 | Updated: 11 March 2024, 16:25

Asked where she was going to go, Marten initially told the court she "would rather keep that private," but added: "Anywhere in Europe away from here".
Asked where she was going to go, Marten initially told the court she "would rather keep that private," but added: "Anywhere in Europe away from here". Picture: PA/Metropolitan Police/Alamy
Jasmine Moody

By Jasmine Moody

On-the-run aristocrat Constance Marten tearfully told a court today how she would have preferred her child had gone into care if she could have "foreseen the circumstances" of the infant’s death.

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Under cross-examination, Marten was asked whether she was in a fit state to care for a child "with the clothes on your back and with limited resources and money."

She replied: "We weren’t planning to stay like that… our plan went up in flames."

She was also asked whether she wouldn’t want social services to find her child “whatever the circumstances."

She started crying on the stand and said: "I would prefer she had her whole life ahead of her but of course if I had foreseen the circumstances, of falling asleep on her, then I would’ve preferred her going into care."

Marten earlier told jurors that she and her partner planned to pay someone to smuggle their baby daughter abroad.

Marten, 36, and her partner Mark Gordon, 49, are on trial after baby Victoria died while they were camping on the South Downs in wintry conditions last year.

Giving evidence on Monday, she insisted that there were "plenty of people" she could have found who would have been willing to help get her daughter abroad, naming advertising and community website Gumtree as one of the places to look.

Jurors have heard how the couple went on the run from authorities in a bid to keep their baby after their four other children were taken into care, who Marten claimed on Monday were "stolen from me by the state".

Marten and Gordon wanted to keep baby Victoria for her first three months in the UK.
Marten and Gordon wanted to keep baby Victoria for her first three months in the UK. Picture: Metropolitan Police

"It is abhorrent, my children were stolen from me there’s no other way of putting it," Marten told the court.

Talking about baby Victoria, Marten said: "She deserves to be with me. I'm a good mother, I'm an excellent mother actually."

Read more: ‘I had to escape my bigoted family,’ Constance Marten tells court as she says she ‘feels responsible’ over baby’s death
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Runaway aristocrat Constance Marten tells court she 'gave her baby the best any mother could'

Marten told the jury that after finding out she was pregnant with her fifth child, the original plan was to go abroad legally but "preventatives" meant the couple looked towards the illegal route.

Talking about baby Victoria, Marten said: "She deserves to be with me. I&squot;m a good mother, I&squot;m an excellent mother actually."
Talking about baby Victoria, Marten said: "She deserves to be with me. I'm a good mother, I'm an excellent mother actually.". Picture: PA

"Our main plan was to go legally but we’d have to fight the high court to get Mark’s passport back and get my travel ban lifted,” Marten said.

She believed there was a travel ban in place against her after a "private" High Court case in 2019, the court heard.

Asked where she was going to go, Marten initially told the court she "would rather keep that private," but added: "Anywhere in Europe away from here".

Marten told jurors that "plan B" was to stay in the UK and "lay low".

Asked to elaborate on the plan to remain in the UK, Marten said: "I probably would not have stayed over here.

Marten and Gordon wanted to keep baby Victoria for her first three months in the UK.

The couple then planned to find a carer for their baby while the two would seek someone to smuggle the two abroad illegally"

Constance Marten asked ‘where is your child?’ in dramatic arrest video

The aristocrat added that she would want her Victoria's carer to "register her under their name.

"If there is a will there is a way, you can always find someone to help."

She insisted she would have "spent time with them" before entrusting them with her child.

Prosecutor Joel Smith challenged Marten's plan and said: "You were going to pay someone to be a people smuggler?"

Marten denied she would have paid a people smuggler as the child would not have been "in the back of a van or something."

She told the court earlier that she would not have been able to register her daughter's birth without alerting the authorities and that she planned to use private medical care on Harley Street if her daughter ever needed medical attention instead of registering her with the NHS.

The defendants, of no fixed address, deny manslaughter by gross negligence
The defendants, of no fixed address, deny manslaughter by gross negligence. Picture: Alamy

Challenged on how getting someone else to register the baby's birth may have been difficult, Marten said: "I am sure these things are doable. I will do anything to save my children."

Marten also told the court she believed people were following them and tampering with their cars, saying that she found "GPS trackers" under the vehicles and "every single one of our cars has just stopped in the middle of the motorway".

Marten and Gordon abandoned their car after it burst into flames near Bolton, Greater Manchester, on January 5 last year and were finally arrested in Brighton a few weeks later on February 27.

The couple had refused to answer officers' urgent questions about where their baby was and whether she was alive or dead.

Her remains were found by police in a Lidl bag inside a shed on a nearby allotment on March 1 2023 by PC Allen Ralph.

Moment police uncover baby remains amid rubbish in Lidl bag is shown in court

Last week, Marten described how Victoria was born at a rental cottage on Christmas Eve 2022 and died last January 9.

On how Victoria died, she said: "I had her in my jacket and when I woke up my head was on the floor. And when I was sitting up and when I woke up she was not alive."

She told jurors her children meant the world to her and she had done nothing to Victoria "but show her love".

The defendants, of no fixed address, deny manslaughter by gross negligence, perverting the course of justice, concealing the birth of a child, child cruelty and causing or allowing the death of a child.

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