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Constance Marten insisted ‘you can’t arrest someone for hiding a pregnancy’ when finally caught by police

Constance Marten claimed her name was Arabella and told police “you can’t arrest someone for hiding a pregnancy” after she was was finally caught after almost eight weeks on the run, a court has heard.

The aristocrat was also heard begging “please stop - he’s not been well” as her partner Mark Gordon was handcuffed and pinned to the ground after they were spotted by a member of the public.

The couple were heard telling each other they loved one another shortly after they were captured by police, the court heard.

In bodyworn footage played to the jury at the Old Bailey on Tuesday, officers could be heard asking the couple where their newborn baby was after they were arrested in Brighton at 9.35pm on 27 February.

The mother, 36 - who denies gross negligence manslaughter of her newborn daughter along with Gordon, 49 - did not respond when officers demanded: “Constance, Arabella, whoever you are... right, where’s your child?”

The infant’s remains were eventually found in a disused shed, hidden by a plastic bag and covered in rubbish “as if she was refuse”, the prosecution told the court.

The prosecution allege the couple’s “reckless and utterly selfish” behaviour led to the “entirely avoidable” death of their newborn daughter, named Victoria, after the pair spent weeks on the run living in a tent in freezing conditions to avoid the child being taken into care.

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 (GMP/PA) (PA Media)
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 (GMP/PA) (PA Media)

In the police footage, Gordon insisted “I’m not on national news” when he was approached by police Sergeant Robert Button in Stanmer Villas, in the Hollingdean area of Brighton, after they were seen buying bags of food from a nearby shop. Marten told officers she did not have any ID, but said her name was Arabella.

There was then a brief struggle as officers arrested the pair on suspicion of child neglect, pinning Gordon to the ground. At one point, Marten said: “Oh my god, I can’t, I can’t watch... leave him alone. Let him eat his food... he’s starving.”

When she was further arrested on suspicion of concealing the birth of a child, she insisted it was not an “arrestable offence”.

After an officer asked her “do you understand what you have been arrested for”, she replied: “The last one but not the first two... you can’t arrest someone for hiding a pregnancy.”

Later, inside a police car, an officer challenged Marten about the baby: “Based on the temperature outside which is currently below five degrees we have great concerns for that child. Can you give us some reassurance that the child is OK? Is the child safe?”

She did not respond and later shook when asked if she would comment, the court heard.

Marten watched the footage played to the court from the dock wearing a pink blouse and black trousers, alongside Gordon in a blue shirt and navy tie.

Giving evidence on Tuesday, arresting officer PS Button told the Old Bailey the pair smelled like they were homeless, while Marten was found to have furniture stuffing inside her jacket.

“She had what appeared to be furniture stuffing. If you imagine the inside of a sofa – like a spongy material that was between a layer of clothing which appeared to act as insulation,” he told the court, adding the pair smelled unclean with a “stale smell”.

Shortly after they were arrested, Marten and Gordon told each other they loved one another. Gordon told his partner “I love you babe” in an exchange captured by police bodyworn cameras as officers quizzed him over the whereabouts of the baby.

Marten responded “I love you”, to which Gordon replied: “Be good. I love you forever.” At one point Marten could be heard calling someone “Daddy bear” in audio played to the court.

Jurors were told that Gordon demanded food and drink when officers desperately tried to find out if the baby was safe.

In police audio played to the jury, an officer can be heard repeatedly asking: “Where’s your child?” and “Is the baby alive?”

In response, Gordon demands food from bags of shopping he was carrying and was eventually handed some ginger beer, chicken and crisps. At one point he asks for chicken “with mayonnaise”.

PC Matthew Colburn responds: “We are not going to make you a sandwich we need to work out where your child is mate.”

At one point, Gordon is heard responding “what’s the big deal” in the audio played to the jury.

The officer pleads: “I am worried that if we don’t find your child the child might die. That is the most important thing right here right now.”

Giving evidence, PC Colburn said he would never normally give an arrested suspect food.

“I quickly came to the realisation that they had potentially not eaten for days, weeks or even months and I came to the conclusion it was the humane thing to do,” he told the Old Bailey.

Gordon was later found to have paper wadding tucked inside his jacket and plastic bags inside his shoes.

Jurors were previously told how the couple were finally caught after eyewitness Dale Cooley recognised them as he was parked outside Mulberry’s Convenience store earlier that evening, where Marten withdrew some cash and Gordon bought some food.

After checking a Brighton Argus news story on his phone, he followed the couple for around 20 minutes and even tried to speak to them to make sure they were the missing pair before ringing 999.

CCTV footage of Constance Marten buying supplies at Texaco in Newhaven (PA)
CCTV footage of Constance Marten buying supplies at Texaco in Newhaven (PA)

“I got out of my car and walked towards the female. She just stared at the ground. She seemed like she was trying to keep hidden,” he said in a witness statement read to the court by prosecutor Tom Little KC.

He said the female was walking ahead and “appeared to be in hurry”. The male lagged behind and walked with a limp, using a stick as a walking aid and with a plastic bag tied around one foot.

“I decided I had to engage with them somehow to see if they were the missing couple. I said is this Stanmer Villas?” But neither replied, the court heard.

“I said again excuse me is this Stanmer villas? The male replied in a gruff tone of voice with a northern accent” saying “we don’t know”.

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

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

The infant’s remains were found in a plastic bag in a locked shed at an overgrown allotment in the Hollingbury area of Brighton on 1 March. The discovery came after Marten and Gordon were arrested in nearby Stanmer Villas.

The trial, scheduled to last until 8 March, continues.