Tragic baby Victoria had 'no clothes' on during on-the-run trip, jurors told

Constance Marten and Mark Gordon. Credit: PA Media

A newborn baby was wearing "no clothes" during a cross-country taxi trip with her on-the-run parents on a cold, wintry night, a court has heard.

Wealthy Constance Marten, 36, and her partner Mark Gordon, 49, were allegedly motivated by a "selfish" desire to keep their daughter Victoria after four other children were taken into care.

After their car burst into flames, the defendants allegedly spent hundreds of pounds on taxis and lived off-grid before their arrests in East Sussex on February 27 last year.

On March 1 2023, the baby was found dead in a Lidl bag covered in rubbish inside a disused shed, the Old Bailey has heard.

  • The defendants' Peugeot car caught fire on a motorway near Bolton, Greater Manchester - Credit: Metropolitan Police

On Monday, jurors heard how a missing persons inquiry was launched last January 5 after a Peugeot the defendants were allegedly using caught fire on a motorway near Bolton, Greater Manchester.

A placenta and items belonging to Marten were found in the burnt out vehicle on the M61 and a woman was seen climbing over the motorway barrier, the court was told.

A local resident who gave the couple a lift into Bolton town centre that evening described the baby as being wrapped in a blanket.

Jurors were shown CCTV footage of the couple walking into Bolton bus interchange with the baby allegedly underneath Marten’s coat.

  • CCTV footage shows the couple walking into Bolton bus interchange - Credit: Metropolitan Police

They took a taxi to Liverpool for around £80 before taking another cab some 240 miles, arriving in Harwich in Essex in the early hours of January 6, it is claimed.

Cab driver Ali Yaryar told jurors how a man and a woman had flagged him down on Edge Lane in Liverpool.

He said the woman was “shivering” and asked for him to turn the heating on before giving their destination in Essex.

He told jurors: “I said this is a long journey. We go to Heathrow airport from Liverpool for £500 but it’s a quiet night, I can go there if you want for £400.”

  • CCTV footage shows the couple outside Bolton Bus Station getting a taxi to Liverpool - Credit: Metropolitan Police

Prosecutor Joel Smith said: “What did you notice about the lady?”

Mr Yaryar said he saw there was a baby inside the woman’s jacket dressed only in a nappy.

He offered the use of a car seat for the child but she declined, saying the baby was “too small”, the witness said.

During the journey, the couple explained that their car had broken down and the woman breastfed the baby.

A court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Constance Marten and Mark Gordon, seated with a dock officer, in the dock at the Old Bailey. Credit: Elizabeth Cook

Mr Yaryar said he heard the couple arguing, with the woman saying "he’s not very helpful".

Cross-examining for Gordon, John Femi-Ola KC suggested the baby did have clothes and only had a nappy on while being changed.

Mr Yaryar replied: "I think the baby had no clothes."

Jurors were told it had been a cold night and the man had not been able to calm the baby down as she was crying.

A Serco prison van arriving at the Central Criminal Court, better known as the Old Bailey, in central London. Credit: Yui Mok/PA

The witness said he saw news stories a few days later and recognised the people he had taken in his taxi.

As the defendants were on route to Harwich, Greater Manchester Police had identified them as the occupants of the broken-down Peugeot from Marten’s passport and other documents.

They checked into the Harwich Premier Inn under the false name of Thomas with Marten paying in cash at 3am, jurors were told.

Staff noticed she seem "quite distressed" and declined the use of a cot for the child strapped to her front under a blanket.

She appeared "drained", spoke with a "posh" accent and looked like a character from the Disney film Brave, the court heard.

That afternoon, receptionist Rae Robson told jurors Marten appeared "stressed" when told she would have to vacate her room because she did not have any identity documents.

Giving evidence, Ms Robson said: "She asked to extend her stay for another night.

"She only had cash, she had no identification on her or a bank card because it was left in the car that broke down.

"I told her I would give her about 10 minutes to get her stuff together and leave.

"Me and my manager then knocked on the door to encourage them to leave."

After the couple came out, Ms Robson went into the room and noticed a smell "like rotten flesh" or an "infected piercing", she said.

The couple went into the restaurant next to the hotel and Marten carried the baby in her arms as she went into toilets, the witness said.

The defendants, of no fixed address, deny manslaughter by gross negligence of the girl 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.

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