Taxi driver heard Constance Marten's baby 'meowing' during three-hour trip

  • CCTV shows Marten standing in the street holding her baby in East Ham, London - Credit: Metropolitan Police

Taxi drivers have spoken of their "concerns" after picking up a wealthy aristocrat and her partner while they were on the run with their newborn baby.

Constance Marten, 36, and Mark Gordon, 49, are on trial at the Old Bailey accused of the manslaughter of their daughter Victoria.

It is alleged the couple travelled across England and lived off-grid in a bid to keep the baby after four other children were taken into care.

Jurors have viewed CCTV in which the child was allegedly carried under Marten’s coat, only being briefly glimpsed when the couple stopped in East Ham.

  • CCTV shows the child dressed in a babygrow, with her hands and arms moving around - Credit: Metropolitan Police

On Wednesday (31 January), the jury viewed more CCTV footage of the couple after they reached Whitechapel in east London.

While there, Gordon had bought a two-person tent and camping bedding, including a children’s unicorn sleeping bag, in Argos, the court was told.

The couple allegedly abandoned a buggy and were carrying Argos bags and a Lidl bag-for-life when they got into a black cab shortly after midnight last January 8.

In a statement read to the court, taxi driver Abdirisakh Mohamud said he became "suspicious" and "uncomfortable" during the journey.

  • CCTV shows Gordon passing the baby to Marten - Credit: Metropolitan Police

The male passenger allegedly asked the driver if he was a Muslim, whether he was "trustworthy" and if there were cameras in the cab.

Mr Mohamud said he told the man there were cameras, even though there were not, because he wanted feel "safe".

The man then asked him: "Are you sharing this conversation with anyone?" and Mr Mohamud said "no", jurors heard.

Mr Mohamud said in his statement that he feared "something was not right".

Constance Marten and Mark Gordon are on trial at the Old Bailey. Credit: GMP/PA

He asked the couple why they were wearing blue Covid facemasks, and the woman said she was a Muslim and it was her "hijab", the court heard.

On being told by the driver that it was not a hijab, she allegedly told him it was the only thing she had.

The man said he wore a mask because he "had a problem with his hair", the witness said.

Mr Mohamud said he decided to drop the couple off early in Green Lanes in Haringey rather than Enfield Tesco Extra where they had asked to go.

Court artist sketch of Constance Marten and Mark Gordon, seated in the dock at the Old Bailey. Credit: PA/Wires

He said: "The more I thought about it, the more concerned I felt about the baby."

Another taxi driver Hasan Guzel described hearing "meowing" noises when he drove the defendants from Haringey to Newhaven in East Sussex early on January 8.

He said in his statement that he had stopped when a woman waved at him and she told him to wait while her "friend" got in.

They initially asked to be taken to Portsmouth then changed the destination to Newhaven, jurors heard.

CCTV footage of Constance Marten holding baby Victoria under her coat outside Special Connection in East Ham, London. Credit: Metropolitan Police/PA

Mr Guzel said he had charged £475 for a three-hour trip.

Describing the woman, he said: "I thought she had a bag under her coat as she looked quite big in the chest area."

During the journey, he said: "I heard what sounded like a cat meowing. I was annoyed at first because I thought she had a pet without telling me.

"I could see it was a baby, I could see the noise was coming from a baby.

"I thought why didn’t she tell me about this, it’s been nearly four hours we have been travelling."

He said that when he dropped them off in Newhaven, he saw it was cold and dark and he was "concerned as to what they were going to do next".

The couple were captured on CCTV heading towards the South Downs at around 6.30am last January and were not spotted again until they resurfaced at a Texaco garage four days later, on January 12.

Marten allegedly bought items including Haribo sweets, mini cheddars, matches, bottles of water and a filled glass bottle of petrol which she paid for in cash.

Gordon was filmed carrying the Lidl bag which then appeared to be blowing in the wind as if it was empty.

On the morning of last January 16, Nicholas Frost allegedly spotted him emerging from a blue tent in woodland in Stanmer Park, Brighton.

  • CCTV from the Texaco Petrol Station in Newhaven on 12 January 2023 - Credit: Metropolitan Police

In a statement, Mr Frost said he and his wife had been walking their dog when he saw the man he later recognised from the news.

He said: "I thought to myself it was unusual because you never see people camping in that area. It was also very cold, not camping weather. It was about minus two degrees.

"The male came out from inside the tent. This startled us and the male appeared to be startled as well."

He added: "I definitely got the impression that he did not want to be seen."

The witness said the male was carrying two bags including an orange bag-for-life which "looked like it had stuff in it".

Mary Thomsen, 66, told jurors she was on a trip to Asda when she spotted a "bright blue" tent last February.

She said: "I said to my husband: 'They must be bloody freezing or mad because no-one would want to be out camping, it was so cold'."

Mrs Thomsen said the sighting played on her mind, saying: "For that time of year it was out of place."

Police searched the Roedale Valley Allotments in Brighton in February 2023. Credit: PA

The court has heard how the couple became front-page news last January when Greater Manchester Police launched a missing persons inquiry after finding a placenta in the couple’s burnt-out car on a motorway near Bolton.

The defendants spent hundreds of pounds on taxis taking them from the North West to Essex, London and the south coast, jurors have heard.

Last February, Marten and Gordon were arrested in East Sussex.

Days later, the body of baby Victoria was found in a Lidl supermarket bag covered in rubbish inside a disused shed.

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