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Constance Marten and Mark Gordon insist ‘loved baby’ was ‘well looked after’ in tent on getaway IG News

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A van driver who stopped to help a wealthy aristocrat and her partner after their car caught fire fears their baby would still be alive if he had stayed with the family.

Ken Hudson was behind the Peugeot 206 carrying Constance Marten, 36, Mark Gordon, 49, and their newborn baby Victoria when it burst into flames on the M61 in Greater Manchester. An eyewitness called the police and fire brigade and remained at the scene for ten minutes before leaving the family by the side of the road, the court heard.

But the couple escaped with the child before police arrived and traveled the country in a taxi before living off the grid in a tent in the South Downs after weeks on the run.

Her remains were eventually found in a derelict shed, hidden in a plastic Lidl bag and covered with rubbish “as if it were rubbish”, the court was told.

Prosecutors say the newborn died from neglect from exposure or hypothermia or from co-sleeping – between parental negligence that was “truly extremely bad” and conditions in the tent that were “inhumane”.

Giving evidence at the Old Bailey, Mr Hudson told the Old Bailey that he started flashing his lights when he saw flames and black smoke coming from the car on his way home from work on January 5 last year.

He said Marten ran from the burning vehicle down the embankment while Gordon opened the trunk and began pulling out their belongings.

When he realized she was carrying a baby, he asked her if the baby was okay – to which she replied, “It’s okay.”

“I put my hand on the baby’s head and said something like god bless her, stay safe,” he told the court, noting the baby’s head was cold and not moving.

“Throughout the year, I’ve been cut myself because I believe that if I had stayed with that vehicle and the people – that the child might still be alive,” he added.

The trial heard on Friday that the couple’s “beloved baby” was “well looked after” – despite spending weeks off the grid in a tent in freezing conditions.

John Femi-Ola KC, defending Gordon, said the child died in “heartbreaking” circumstances.

He told the Old Bailey: “The defense submit that the baby was kept warm and dry and was always fed so that she was well fed.

“The baby did not require medical attention and died in the circumstances that her mother described in her conversation with police, so heartbreaking.”

The court previously heard that Marten initially refused to reveal where she had left the child when she was arrested on February 27 last year. But when the baby’s remains were discovered days later, she told officers she fell asleep with the baby tucked in her jacket and woke up to find her dead.

Constance Marten and Mark Gordon are on trial at the Old Bailey after their daughter was found dead in a derelict shed (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

(PA wire)

The parents did not call 999 and kept the child’s remains in a reusable plastic bag for some time before disposing of them in a shed.

At one point, the parents discussed telling police it was a “cot death,” prosecutors told jurors.

Mr. Femi-Ola said the parents were trying to preserve the remains in the hope of finding out how she died.

“Our contention is that the body was not disposed of, but that there was an attempt to preserve the body… She wanted to know why her beloved child—yes, her beloved child—had died. She wanted an autopsy,” he told jurors.

“Crown says they went off the grid. When you listen to the evidence, you have to ask yourself, have they been kicked off the grid?’

Their defense comes after prosecutor Tom Little KC told this court how the couple’s actions – done to prevent the child from being taken into care like her four siblings – were “reckless, extremely selfish and callous”. resulted in a “completely avoidable” death. a little girl.

In evidence from DC Martha Bourne, the court heard Marten received two payments from the trust funds shortly before going on the run, one of £15,590 on December 22 last year and a separate payment of £3,400 on January 3.

She booked a two-bed holiday cottage in Northumberland for £367.20 on Booking.com, where she and Gordon spent Christmas.

However, after six nights, the owners found the cottage in disarray – with candle wax and cat litter on the floor and carpets, the bed linen stained with curry, while the bathroom was full of urine stains.

A driver who picked them up from a broken-down previous car – then a Suzuki Ignis – on the M18 on December 28 noted that they appeared to be living out of a vehicle filled with clothes.

“I remember this pair well because it was one of the weirdest pickups I ever owned. They both had a bad relationship even though I was there to help them,” he said in a statement read to the court by prosecutor Little. At no time did the fixer see or hear the child.

The pair are on trial at the Old Bailey Central Criminal Court in London (Ian Nicholson/PA)

(PA Archive)

They were next spotted at the Ibis Hotel in Warrington, Cheshire, where Marten checked in under the name ‘Caroline Marten’ – telling the receptionist she was a freelance journalist and needed to pay in cash because she had lost her bank card.

A day later, they checked into the four-star AC Hotel in Salford, Manchester, where staff said she looked “very tired” before being joined by Gordon, who was carrying a large number of carrier bags. No staff at either hotel saw or heard the child during the short stay.

Both parents deny murdering their daughter due to gross negligence between January 4 and February 27 last year.

The couple also deny allegations of perverting the course of justice by concealing a body, concealing the birth of a child, child cruelty and allowing a child to die.

The baby’s remains were found in a plastic bag in a locked shed on an overgrown property in the Hollingbury area of ​​Brighton on March 1. The discovery came after the arrest of Marten and Gordon at nearby Stanmer Villa.

The trial continues until March 8.

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