Daily Mail

POLICE: WE FEAR THAT THEIR BABY HAS COME TO HARM

As missing aristocrat Constance Marten and her lover are found and held for manslaught­er...

- By Rebecca Camber and Connor Stringer

A RUNAWAY aristocrat and her lover were last night urged to tell police where their baby is.

Hopes were fading of finding the two-month-old infant alive after Constance Marten and Mark Gordon were caught in Brighton on Monday night following 53 days on the run.

the child was not with them and more than 200 police were last night conducting frantic searches across the South Downs. Hundreds more are expected to join them today. the couple have been detained on suspicion of gross negligence manslaught­er. Lewis Basford of the Metropolit­an Police said it was possible the baby had ‘come to harm’ because the

couple had refused to reveal its location despite being quizzed for a ‘significan­t period of time’.

The detective superinten­dent said the odds of finding the infant alive were dwindling by the hour, adding: ‘If you know where this baby is, talk to us.’

Police launched an investigat­ion on January 5 when 35-year-old Marten, who hails from a wealthy family with connection­s to the Royal Family, fled with her newborn and 48-year-old partner.

The pair went to extreme lengths to hide the pregnancy until their car burst into flames on the M61 near Bolton, destroying all their belongings.

‘With the baby barely a day old, the pair abandoned the wreckage, travelling around the country and evading police who were worried about the welfare of a child denied any medical attention and of unknown sex.

The couple avoided detection by making payments only in cash, hiding their faces on CCTV and often moving around at night or in the early hours.

On Monday night police found them in Brighton after they were recognised by a member of the public near a parade of shops. They were captured on CCTV laden with shopping bags. Officers were on the scene within six minutes of being alerted just before 9.30pm.

Witnesses described Marten as tearful, shouting at officers to ‘get off ’ Gordon when he was restrained, saying she was worried about his mental health.

A mother of two, who asked to remain anonymous, said the pair, who met in 2016, were arguing moments before officers swooped: ‘The man seemed to me to be slightly angry. They’d been to the shops around the corner and were heading back somewhere. They were both carrying bags filled with food.’

Another witness said: ‘They went for the man first, he was struggling and resisting arrest. The woman he was with was shouting at the officers and telling them to be careful as he had issues with mental health.

‘‘A second police car arrived and the back-up officers helped subdue the man. He was groaning.’

Detectives were immediatel­y fearful for the fate of the child who is thought to have been left outside – given the parents were wrapped in outdoor clothing and had been sleeping rough in temperatur­es as low as -1C. Initially the couple were arrested on suspicion of child neglect, but within hours they were further arrested on suspicion of gross negligence manslaught­er.

When asked if the child was already dead, Mr Basford conceded: ‘We agree that the risk is extremely high, probably as high as it could be in this investigat­ion. In terms of the coldness and the impact that would have on a baby then clearly the risk is getting higher.

‘We have had significan­t periods of time in the custody facility with Constance and Mark. At this time we have not furthered that informatio­n [as to the location of the baby], which has led to the position that we feel the risk is get handed ting so great that we now have to consider the possibilit­y the baby has come to harm.’

Marten’s father Napier, who was a page to the late Queen, told The Independen­t yesterday: ‘It is an immense relief to know my beloved daughter Constance has been found, tempered by the very alarming news her baby has yet to be found. For whatever reasons she and her partner went on the run, the consequenc­es of their actions have increased many fold. It would have been far better if they had themselves in earlier. When the time comes, I am longing to see Constance to reassure her that, whatever the weather, I love her dearly and will support her as best I can.’

Marten, who has a multi-million-pound trust fund, had withdrawn a huge sum of cash prior to her disappeara­nce.

But recently her funds appeared to have been dwindling and the couple were spotted withdrawin­g money from a cashpoint for the first time on Monday to buy food and supplies.

Police said they believed the couple had been sleeping rough in the Sussex Downs area for the past two months.

Officers are now combing an area including a nature reserve after a search of an allotment near where the couple were arrested proved unsuccessf­ul.

Police are also using drones, sniffer dogs and the force helicopter to assist in the search.

Mr Basford said officers could not rule out that the couple had found someone ‘like-minded or who does not conform or appreciate the establishm­ent’ who had agreed to conceal the child.

The officer added: ‘That’s in part why we put the £10,000 reward out. Just to explain that if they have been offering you money to assist in that then there is actually a way out.’

‘Odds dwindling by the hour’

‘Withdrew a huge sum of cash’

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