Constance Marten advised to say baby was victim of ‘cot death’, court told

Fugitive aristocrat Constance Marten was advised by her partner to say their baby was the victim of “cot death”, after the child died in her arms as she slept, a court has heard.

Marten, 36, and Mark Gordon, 49, went on the run with their daughter Victoria after their car burst into flames near Bolton, Greater Manchester, last January.

The Old Bailey has heard how they went on to sleep in a tent, in a bid to keep the baby, after Marten’s four other children were taken into care.

When the couple were eventually arrested in Brighton, East Sussex, they initially refused to say where their child was or whether she was alive or dead.

Last March 1, Victoria’s remains were found in a Lidl supermarket bag inside a disused shed on an allotment.

Mark Gordon court case
Body-worn camera image of the moment the body of baby Victoria was found (Met Police/PA)

She told police that she had been “extremely tired” and had fallen asleep in a tent while holding Victoria under her jacket.

When she woke up, Victoria had gone “limp” and did not respond to resuscitation attempts, the defendant said.

Marten said she did not seek help because the child was no longer alive.

She said she wrapped the baby up and held her for hours before putting her in a bag.

She said: “Initially Mark and I were talking about what to do with the situation and I think, like two weeks after it happened, I was debating whether to hand myself in.

“Mark advised me to say it was a cot death and I was not holding her.

“And he advised me to say that I lay her down and then when we woke up she was on her front and she’s passed away.

“But that isn’t what happened. So he may try to say that in order to protect me because he wants to protect my interests.”

Mark Gordon court case
Police body-worn image as Constance Marten was arrested in Brighton (Met Police/PA)

She said she felt  “shock, sadness, grief and anger” that they had done so much to keep her and it “ended really badly”.

The defendant said she left the bag containing Victoria’s body at the allotment when it became too heavy to carry.

She covered the child’s body in soil because of the smell, jurors heard.

Marten told police she had planned to bury Victoria’s body and considered cremating her, but changed her mind.

Later, she added:  “I decided not to hand myself in, I made a decision that I wasn’t going to do it. So, basically to hide the body somewhere and then come back at a later date, try and get a proper burial or something, my thoughts, yeah.”

Asked why she opted against going to authorities, she said: “Because I’m all over the media and I didn’t want to hand myself in. It’s too much, it’s a prison charge, isn’t it? I don’t think I wanted to go to prison.”

The defendant said that before the tragedy she had been “elated” to be with one of her children.

She said: “I was feeling fine. I was elated to be with her actually. To be with one of my children. With Mark, together and parenting.”

They had not intended to stay in a tent for long and the baby had warm blankets and clothes, she said.

But Marten told officers that they found themselves “between a rock and a hard place”.

“We had limited cash. I knew that I couldn’t access the bank because then the police would know where I was.”

She added: “We were trying to figure out what to do in terms of getting a house, accessing money without the authorities finding out where we were.”

Marten went on to tell police Gordon was her “soulmate”, having met in London and had a marriage ceremony in Peru around seven years ago.

She said: “We met in a shop actually in London. Yeah, then we went for coffee and it just went from there. Got lots of similarities so, same perspectives on life, things like that.”

She complained about her children being taken away after she accidentally “fell from a window”.

She also blamed family members for getting social services involved, saying: “Because I was trying to get away from my family and they had, hired private investigators, my grandmother left me quite a bit of money in trust when she passed away.”

Marten and Gordon, of no fixed address, deny  manslaughter, perverting the course of justice, concealing the birth of a child, child cruelty and causing or allowing the death of a child.

The trial continues.

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