Constance Marten: Dead baby called Victoria found wrapped in plastic bag, court hears

Aristocrat Constance Marten is accused of manslaughter after a dead baby girl called Victoria was found wrapped in a plastic bag under nappies inside an abandoned shed, a court has heard.

The 35-year-old faces a manslaughter charge alongside her boyfriend, Mark Gordon, 48, over the discovery of the baby earlier this week.

Appearing in court for the first time on Friday, Marten smiled and blew a kiss to Gordon as they sat together in the dock.

Prosecutor Jeremy King said an “extensive search” was carried out after the couple’s arrest on Monday, leading police to a shed in an “overgrown” allotment in the Brighton area.

“In a locked shed, wrapped in a plastic bag, under nappies, the baby was found inside”, he said.


“Life was pronounced extinct - the charges flow from that discovery.”

According the charge, the couple, who were arrested at the end of a nationwide 53-day search, are accused of manslaughter by having “unlawfully killed baby Victoria”.

Together with the manslaughter charge, they are also accused of concealing the birth of a child, and perverting the course of justice.

It is said the birth was concealed between Janaury 27 and February 27, and they are accused of “doing an act or acts by concealing the death of baby Victoria which had a tendency to pervert the course of public justice.”

As they appeared together in the dock at Crawley magistrates court, Marten smiled and reached out her hand to Gordon, with two security guards sitting between them.

Mark Gordon (PA)
Mark Gordon (PA)

Mr King said the hunt for the couple, who have been dating since 2015, started with the discovery of placenta in an abandoned motor vehicle on the M61.

“A national missing persons campaign was launched, which was ongoing until February 27”, said the prosecutor.

“It appears both parties were staying in and around hotels in the country, using taxis to get around.

“There were various sightings of them.”

Friday’s hearing had been switched from Brighton magistrates court to Crawley to provide disabled access, amid reports that Gordon is using a wheelchair.

Both defendant were wearing prison-issue grey clothes, and Gordon sat with a piece of clothing covering the top of his head.

Marten, who hails from a wealthy aristocratic family with members who have served the Royal Family, grew up at Crichel House, the family seat in north Dorset. She is set to be represented in the legal proceedings by leading barrister Lewis Power KC.

The barrister told the hearing a bail application is expected to be made for Marten.

The case was sent to the Old Bailey, with the next hearing scheduled for March 31.

“There are various areas of the country that these offences took place in, culminating finally in Sussex”, said Mr King.

“It is agreed the matter should go to the Central Criminal Court to be dealt with.”

The criminal charges come at the end of a huge manhunt which began in early January when Marten was first reported as missing.

The Metropolitan Police was drawn into the search, in an operation which ultimately involved more than 200 officers.

The couple were finally found in Stanmer Villas, Brighton, at about 9.30pm on Monday, after a tip-off from a member of the public.

Responding to the news, Marten’s father Napier said: "It is an immense relief to know my beloved daughter Constance has been found.”


Mr Marten, a former page to Queen Elizabeth II, added: "When the time comes, I am longing to see Constance to reassure her that, whatever the weather, I love her dearly and will support her as best I can through the difficult weeks and months here on in."

Around 48 hours after the arrests, police announced the discovery of the baby’s remains in woodland in the Hollingbury area of Brighton.

A candlelit vigil was held outside St Mary Magdalen Church in Coldean, East Sussex, near to where the remains of a baby were found. Mourners were seen holding candles and lighting a small fire outside the church to pay tribute, at an event attended by the Bishop of Lewes, Will Hazlewood.

Reverend Betsy Gray-Hammond described how the tragedy has rocked the local community.

“This has caused such a cloud of darkness in this area, and we feel we want to bring some light back into that darkness,” the vicar told ITV.

“People here have been so affected by everything that has gone on.

“When you’ve seen searches taking place in your local woodland, it’s brought home to you, and it’s that tiny little innocent life that none of us can explain what happened or why it happened.”

Magistrates Carol Lintott, Anand Limbachia, and Sally Morgan presided over the first court appearance of Marten and Gordon, both of no fixed address. Neither were asked to enter any pleas to the charges.

They were remanded back into custody until March 31.