Jurors have seen dramatic video of the moment fugitive aristocrat Constance Marten was arrested in the street and asked repeatedly: “Where is your child?”
Constance Marten, 36, and Mark Gordon, 49, had allegedly been living with their newborn baby off grid in a tent on the South Downs while on the run from police.
Last February 27, police finally tracked them down to the Hollingbury area of Brighton after they were spotted by a member of the public.
They declined to say where baby Victoria was and on March 1, her body was found in a Lidl supermarket bag covered in rubbish in a disused shed.
Giving evidence, Mr Button said Marten appeared to be wearing “furniture stuffing” for insulation and smelled “unclean and unwashed”.
He said both she and Gordon had a distinctive odour that he associated with homeless people.
The officer’s body-worn video showed the moment they were arrested on suspicion of child neglect.
Mr Button approached Gordon and said: “Hello. Sorry mate, can you stop for a second? Stop alright, I need to speak to you.”
Asked what about, Mr Button said: “Well because potentially I think you may have been in the national news.”
When Gordon denied it, he was asked why he was running away and ordered repeatedly to put the stick he was carrying down.
As the defendant resisted, he was told: “Relax yourself, you are under arrest until I confirm who you are.”
Gordon complained he was hungry and he “wasn’t doing anything”.
CCTV footage of Constance Marten buying supplies at Texaco in Newhaven, last January 12 (Met Police/PA)A distressed Marten then intervened saying: “Stop with him please, he’s not well.”
She went on: “Oh my god, I can’t watch. Leave him alone. Let him eat his food. He’s starving.”
Another officer later turned to Marten and said: “I’ll level with you, you are under arrest for child neglect.”
Marten replied: “For doing what?”
She was then asked by officers: “Where’s your child? Where’s your child? Sorry, where is your child, we need to know?”
The defendant did not respond.
A dog handler then said: “Tell me now because I’m going to send the dog into the wood to try and find someone so you tell me where it is now.”
A discussion could be heard about carrying out an “open search” before Marten was further arrested for concealment of the birth of a child.
Marten insisted it was “not an arrestable offence”, adding: “You can’t arrest someone for hiding a pregnancy.”
On being given ginger beer, chicken and crisps from his shopping bag, the defendant asked for mayonnaise to go with it.
Pc Colburn was heard on body worn video to say: “I’m not going to make you a sandwich, we’ve got a child to find.”
Gordon said he did not “want to talk” and asked why finding the baby was the “bigger deal”.
The officer replied: “We need to potentially save a life. That’s the number one priority. It may not be your priority, but it’s everyone else’s priority.”
Gordon made muffled noises as he ate his crisps on the ground and Pc Colburn queried: “The child is dead? The child is dead?”
The officer told Gordon he was concerned there was a “baby potentially on its own” and the defendant was “more interested in eating”.
He added: “I’m worried if we don’t find the child, your child might die, and that’s the most important thing right here, right now.”
Giving evidence in court, Pc Colburn said he had never given a suspect food after arresting them before.
He told jurors: “I quickly came to the realisation they had potentially not eaten for days, weeks or even months, and from my perspective it was the humane thing to do.”
The defendants became front-page news last January when Greater Manchester Police launched a missing persons inquiry after finding a placenta in the couple’s burnt-out car on a motorway near Bolton.
Last February 20, the defendants had been caught on camera trying to break into Hollingbury Golf Course near Brighton, East Sussex, and “rumaging” through a wheelie bin, the court heard.
On the evening of February 27, CCTV captured Marten appearing to attempt to steal food from a shop.
She then withdrew cash from an ATM machine and Gordon bought food in a convenience store.
Resident Dale Cooley spotted Gordon carrying a stick with one foot wrapped in a plastic bag, which he thought was “strange”.
Mr Cooley recognised the couple and checked a story on the local Argus newspaper website to confirm his suspicions.
He tried to engage them in conversation asking if they were on Stanmer Drive, and Gordon replied “we don’t know” in a gruff Northern accent, the court was told.
In a statement read to court, Mr Cooley said: “Their body language suggested they did not want to be bothered. I spotted a paramedic car and waved them down. I asked them what I should do and they said call 999.”
Mr Cooley, who had gone out in his car to dispose of coffee pots and visit an ATM, alerted police at 9.26pm.
The defendants, of no fixed address, deny the manslaughter of baby Victoria by gross negligence between January 4 and February 27 last year.
They are also charged with perverting the course of justice, concealing the birth of a child, child cruelty and causing or allowing the death of a child.
The Old Bailey trial continues.