Daily Mail

Aristocrat: Police find baby’s body left in woodland

Seven-week fugitive saga ends with grim discovery

- By Rebecca Camber and Connor Stringer

A bAby was found dead yesterday in woodland near where a runaway aristocrat and her lover were arrested after 53 days on the run.

The discovery ended a nationwide police hunt that began when Constance Marten, 35, and her partner Mark Gordon, 48, fled seven weeks ago with their newborn.

A post-mortem examinatio­n will determine how and when the infant died. Police had long feared for the child’s chances of survival.

yesterday it emerged that the death may have been days or weeks ago because the couple were spotted several times without the child.

They were seen on CCTV on February 11 going into a fish and chip shop in brighton, shopping at a convenienc­e store and later visiting food banks, acording to locals.

The last person to see the infant alive was on January 7 when the couple took a taxi in Whitechape­l, east London.

Police arrested them on suspicion of gross negligence manslaught­er but they have refused to talk to officers about their child who was born in secret.

The authoritie­s were unaware of the birth until the pair’s car developed an electrical fault and burst into flames on the M61 near bolton on January 5, destroying all their belongings.

The couple abandoned the wreckage, traversing the country with the baby, who was then barely a day old as police officers became increasing­ly concerned that the child had not received any medical attention.

They travelled by taxi, paying for everything in cash, covering their faces

‘We thought they needed help’

while on CCTV and moving frequently, often after dark.

On Monday night, police finally traced the couple to brighton following a tipoff. yesterday a businessma­n, who did not wish to be named, said: ‘ They’ve been picked up on CCTV in the area as far back as February 11.

‘They’ve been seen going into the chippy and into the Mulberrys (store), and would only go out at night.

‘Gordon has a leg injury and was using the tree branch as a walking stick. They were never seen with the baby, or pushing a pram or anything like that. It’s heartbreak­ing to think what might’ve happened to that poor baby.’

Days before her arrest, Marten, who hails from a wealthy family with links to the Royal Family, made a visit to brighton Food bank.

One worker said they did not ask for anything for an infant, even though they had ample supplies of nappies and baby food, adding: ‘ They were given tinned food, bread, pasta, milk and rice. They were not registered with us, which is how we usually operate.

‘The baby was not with them. We have supplies here but they didn’t ask for anything for a baby. but they came asking for help for themselves.

‘She did the talking and the man stayed back with his hood up. She asked for help. She was wearing a lot of layers and looked like she’d been outside for a while.

‘He was checking the area. He stood back and would not make eye contact. She did the talking. We didn’t take any details, we just gave them food because we thought they needed help.’

Over the past 48 hours, more than 200 police officers and search and rescue experts scoured 90 square miles of the Sussex countrysid­e looking for the child using helicopter­s, sniffer dogs, thermal imaging cameras and drones.

Detective Superinten­dent Lewis basford, who is leading the investigat­ion for Sussex Police, said last night: ‘It is my very sad duty to update that this afternoon, police officers searching a wooded area close to where Constance Marten and Mark Gordon were arrested, discovered the remains of a baby.

A post-mortem examinatio­n will be held in due course.

‘A crime scene is in place and work at the location is expected to continue for some time. This is an outcome that myself and the many officers who have been part of the search had hoped would not happen.’

Last night the couple remained in custody after magistrate­s granted an applicatio­n for the extension of their detention for a further 36 hours.

Inquiries revealed that Marten had given birth in the back of the car before it caught fire and had not been assessed by any medical profession­als.

She was apparently tearful during the arrest and yelled at officers to ‘get off’ her lover when he was restrained because she was worried about his mental health.

One bystander claimed he struggled and took 40 minutes to be subdued. Another said he was ‘very angry’ and was shouting. A search dog van was seen making its way into the road leading to allotments that have been a focus of the police search.

Marked police vehicles were stationed along the route and a uniformed officer stood guard at the bottom of the road.

The woodland, which is located within a 240- hectare nature reserve, lies on the direct off-road foot route between Newhaven and Fiveways, the area of brighton where the couple were arrested on Monday evening.

Marten and Gordon were initially detained on suspicion of child neglect before being re-arrested the following day on suspicion of gross negligence manslaught­er.

 ?? ?? Hunt: A search party in woods near where Constance Marten and Mark Gordon, inset, were arrested
Hunt: A search party in woods near where Constance Marten and Mark Gordon, inset, were arrested
 ?? ??
 ?? ?? Makeshift camp: Sleeping bags and a tent were found by police
Makeshift camp: Sleeping bags and a tent were found by police

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom