Constance Marten: Police offer £10,000 reward for information on runaway family
Detectives are offering a £10,000 reward for information that helps trace a missing baby and its mother and father after they were spotted at a port town.
Constance Marten, who is from an aristocratic family, and Mark Gordon, a convicted rapist, disappeared at the beginning of January after she gave birth in the back of a car.
Police have become increasingly concerned for the newborn baby’s safety amid fears it is sleeping rough with its parents in a tent in sub-zero temperatures. Neither the mother nor the baby have received any medical attention.
The Metropolitan Police is now offering a £10,000 reward in the hope the public will be able to help find the trio.
Spotted with tent and sleeping bags
It has emerged the family was last spotted in Newhaven, East Sussex, on Sunday, January 8, after they were dropped off at the entrance to the port in a taxi at 4.56am. They were seen carrying bags containing a blue, two-man tent, sleeping bags and pillows purchased the day before from Argos in Whitechapel, East London.
The night before, they had dumped the pushchair they were seen using near Argos at 11.46pm in Flower Dean Walk, near Brick Lane, in East London.
They then took a taxi to Haringey, North London. At 1.24am they got another taxi in Allison Road in the same borough and travelled to Newhaven. Officers have established that the baby was alive when in that taxi.
Detectives believe they remain camping rough in the UK because they have not been spotted at any border crossings from ferries, Eurostar rail routes or airports. However, a source connected to the investigation has said they cannot rule out the possibility they may be attempting to leave the UK aboard a private yacht after they got a taxi to the south coast port used by private and commercial boats.
Ms Marten, 35, and her partner Gordon, 48, have lived an isolated life since they met in 2016. Her partner’s criminal past saw her break ties with her family.
Detective Superintendent Lewis Basford, who is leading the investigation, said: "We continue to be extremely concerned about the health and well-being of the newborn baby, which has had no medical care and has been on the move, and possibly exposed to sub-zero temperatures, for almost a month now.
"We're also concerned for the welfare of Constance and Mark because our enquiries suggest that they were constantly moving and awake for at least a few days - which must be especially draining on someone who had recently given birth with no medical attention.
"Finding the baby is our top priority and we are now offering a £10,000 reward to anyone who provides information which leads to them being found.”
He added: “We have no evidence to suggest that they boarded a ferry in Newhaven, and we still strongly believe that they remain here in the UK – although they could be anywhere. Our enquiries also establish that the baby was alive and with them when they got the taxi to Newhaven.
“We know they were still in possession of camping equipment on Sunday, 8 January and so I’d encourage people to remain vigilant and keep a lookout for a blue tent.
“Please keep your eyes peeled, especially while you are out and about in waste ground or beauty spots, or while you’re walking the dog, and report any information to us.”
He added that anyone who may have received cash to help the family should come forward because “you are not in any sort of trouble, we just need to hear from you”.
Gordon, originally from Birmingham in the West Midlands, committed a violent rape of his next-door neighbour in Florida while still a teenager.
He had moved to the US with his family in 1989, and was jailed for 20 years before being deported back to the UK in 2010, where he would have had to sign on to the sex offenders’ register.
Ms Marten’s father, Napier Marten, urged his daughter to contact police so she and her baby, whose sex is not known, could receive medical attention.
In an appeal, he said that although he was estranged from his "darling daughter", he was "deeply concerned" for her and would "do whatever is necessary for your safe return to us".
The missing persons enquiry began at 6.33pm on January 5, after Greater Manchester Police received reports of an abandoned and broken down car on fire on the hard-shoulder of the M61 near Farnworth, Bolton. Detectives established the occupants walked to a nearby junction and flagged down a taxi. They are believed to have a large amount of cash which is helping them stay “off grid”.
Following unconfirmed sightings of the couple in Colchester, they were spotted at 9am on January 7 in Harwich, but they do not appear to have tried to board a ferry.
Essex Police seized CCTV images of the two near East Ham underground station in London around noon on the same day. As a result, the Met took over the investigation.
Mary Anna Marten, the paternal grandmother of Ms Marten and her brothers - Maximilian, 34, and Tobias, 31 - was goddaughter to the late Queen Mother.
Their great-grandfather, Capt Napier Sturt, was the third and final Baron Alington. Their mother, Virginie De Selliers, 63, is a psychotherapist.