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Aristocrat Constance Marten says she showed baby daughter she is accused of killing ‘nothing but love’

Constance Marten and Mark Gordon both deny gross negligence manslaughter of their daughter Victoria between 4 January and 27 February last year  (PA)
Constance Marten and Mark Gordon both deny gross negligence manslaughter of their daughter Victoria between 4 January and 27 February last year (PA)

Aristocrat Constance Marten has insisted she did nothing but show her baby love, adding: “I gave her the best that any mother would.”

The 36-year-old, who denies gross negligence manslaughter of her newborn daughter, wept in court as she told jurors she and her partner Mark Gordon had done nothing to harm their child – who she found lifeless inside her jacket while they lived off-grid in wintry conditions.

Giving evidence from the witness box at the Old Bailey on Thursday, the mother told jurors how she gave birth to her fifth child, named Victoria, unaided in an Airbnb on Christmas Eve 2022 before going on the run to stop the infant being taken into care like her siblings.

She told the court she and Gordon acted on “impulse and instinct” after their car caught fire on 5 January and travelled the country by taxi – fearing her family was using private investigators to trail them.

Eventually they bought a tent and took a taxi to the port at Newhaven to “lay low away from prying eyes” amid a high-profile police appeal to find them, she told the jury.

She choked back tears as relived the moment she awoke to find Victoria dead inside her coat as they camped on the South Downs on 9 January last year, adding the death is something she will never recover from.

She said: “I feel guilty because she was in my arms. I feel like it’s not an easy thing to live with.”

Court artist sketch of Constance Marten giving evidence at the Old Bailey (PA Wire)
Court artist sketch of Constance Marten giving evidence at the Old Bailey (PA Wire)

In the aftermath of her death, she said she felt “disbelief, shock” and “intense grief”, and revealed the couple had even contemplated suicide as they panicked over what to do next.

She told jurors she held the child for several hours before saying some “parting words” to her daughter, who she wrapped in a black headscarf and placed in a bag for life.

She said: “I had a thousand different thoughts going on in my head. I immediately panicked.

“I just didn’t know what to do. They are going to have a field day out of this - the media and press and social services, everyone.

“She was in my care and the next thing she died. I thought, ‘How am I going to get my kids back now Victoria has passed away?’”

In a tearful admission, the mother said she had bought some petrol and was considering cremating the infant, after seeing similar funerals in India, but could not go through with it.

“At one point Mark said let’s jump in it with her and call it quits,” she told the court. “Let’s just all have a fire and say goodbye to life together. We just had enough at that point.”

The infant’s remains were eventually found last March in a Lidl shopping bag in a disused shed, covered in rubbish.

The prosecution alleges the couple’s “reckless and utterly selfish” behaviour led to the “entirely avoidable” death of the newborn. But the parents insist they did everything they could to protect the baby.

Marten’s evidence comes after jurors were previously told Gordon would not be entering the witness box.

She revealed she had met Gordon in 2014 in a shop selling incense – before they were married in a ceremony in Peru two years later.

Under questioning from her lawyer Francis FitzGibbon KC, she explained she wanted a “conventional life” with Gordon, but broke ties with her family after their relationship began.

“We have had a long history with issues in that regard… I stopped speaking to one of my family members two years before I met Mr Gordon,” she said.

“But I think when I met him I made a definite decision that was it for me – I didn’t want anything to do with them.”

Marten told the court that by the time their first child was born, the couple were trying to escape from her family amid fears they were being followed by private investigators.

“I was trying to flee my family. I had spoken about a childhood traumatic event against one of my family members and also the sale of my grandmother’s estate,” she said.

“Her will was got rid of and they used a letter of wishes to sell the estate which was against her will. I did an investigation into it and the fact that I thought it was wrong, and that’s when I noticed I was being trailed by private investigators very heavily.”

She added: “I wanted to bring up my child… in a happy home with [their] parents away from the constant surveillance of my family.”

CCTV footage of Constance Marten holding baby Victoria in East Ham, London (PA Media)
CCTV footage of Constance Marten holding baby Victoria in East Ham, London (PA Media)

She said that turning to social services to help her find emergency housing with their first child was the “worst decision”. A family court went on to eventually take all four of her children into care several years later, before she and Gordon went in the run with their fifth child Victoria.

“I feel like I made a bet with the devil asking social services for help,” she said.

She choked back tears when she was asked if she had ever harmed any of her five children.

She said: “Absolutely not. Mark and I love our kids more than anything in the world so I’m pretty angry about the fact they had to go through this process. It’s not good enough.”

Challenged on the prosecution’s suggestion she and Gordon put their interests ahead of the children, she said: “No, there is literally nothing I would not do for my children.”

The couple both deny gross negligence manslaughter of their daughter Victoria between 4 January and 27 February last year.

They also deny charges of perverting the course of justice by concealing the body, along with concealing the birth of a child, child cruelty, and allowing the death of a child.

The trial continues.