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Constance Marten: Aristocrat considered finding nanny on Gumtree to smuggle baby daughter abroad

Constance Marten and Mark Gordon had planned to illegally move abroad  (PA)
Constance Marten and Mark Gordon had planned to illegally move abroad (PA)

An aristocrat accused of killing her newborn daughter has told jurors she and her partner planned to pay for someone to illegally smuggle their baby abroad, saying: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Returning to the witness stand for the third day, Constance Marten said she could have found a carer or nanny willing to help get their newborn to Europe, naming advertising website Gumtree as a place to look.

The 36-year-old also told the court her family believed she was a drug addict who was “bearing children to sell on the black market”.

Marten and her partner Mark Gordon are on trial for manslaughter after baby Victoria died while they were camping on the South Downs in wintry conditions last year while evading the authorities.

Jurors at the Old Bailey have heard how the couple went on the run in a bid to keep their baby after their four other children were taken into care. Marten said on Monday they were “stolen from me by the state”.

Talking about baby Victoria, Marten said: “She deserves to be with me. I’m a good mother, I’m an excellent mother actually.”

When pressed by prosecutor Joel Smith that she would not have allowed social services near her child “whatever the consequences”, she tearfully told the court: “Not ‘whatever the consequences’. If I had foreseen what happened with Victoria, of course I’d have preferred her to have gone into care and had her life but I wasn’t prepared to have that gamble.”

Constance Marten continued giving evidence on Monday (PA)
Constance Marten continued giving evidence on Monday (PA)

Taking repeated aim at social services for taking her four other children into care, she told the court that she and Gordon had planned to travel abroad after realising she was pregnant with her fifth child.

However, she believed there was a travel ban in place against her after her family brought a “private” High Court case in 2019, jurors were told.

She claimed that a relative had used the “full force of the state” in order to “get back at me” by removing her children from her care. “They stated I was bearing children to sell on the black market and was a drug addict. It was completely outrageous.”

Marten added: “My family have a lot of money, a lot of clout and a lot of connections and that is why they were able to do what they did.”

Asked how they were going to get abroad, Marten said: “We were going to find some people to smuggle us abroad illegally.”

Constance Marten, Mark Gordon and baby Victoria in a shop in East Ham, London. This was shown in court during their trial (PA)
Constance Marten, Mark Gordon and baby Victoria in a shop in East Ham, London. This was shown in court during their trial (PA)

She said that they planned to go anywhere in Europe, but that it became difficult due to preventative measures and that their “plan B” was to remain in the UK and stay off-grid.

Describing her plan to keep Victoria until she was three months old so she could be near her parents, Marten then told jurors they had planned to pay a carer to smuggle her abroad. “It would have been a carer, a nanny or something,” she added.

When asked if she thought nannies take money to smuggle people abroad, she responded: “Where there’s a will there’s a way, you can always find someone to help.”

“I would have found someone online like on Gumtree, nannies who don’t necessarily have the same qualifications as nursery teachers but you can go and spend time with them and see how they are with children.”

Marten said the plan was to find someone prepared to register Victoria under their own name.

Marten told police that her baby Victoria died when she fell asleep in a tent while holding her under her jacket (PA)
Marten told police that her baby Victoria died when she fell asleep in a tent while holding her under her jacket (PA)

She also told the court that she was unable to register her daughter’s birth without alerting the authorities and that she had not intended to register her with the NHS.

Instead, she planned to use private medical care on Harley Street if her child required medical attention, and that same-day appointments were available.

After spending several weeks moving between hotels and Airbnb rentals, Marten and Gordon abandoned their Suzuki car after it burst into flames near Bolton on 5 January last year, sparking a national manhunt.

On several occasions, she repeated the claim that a relative had hired private investigators to trail her and Gordon and place GPS devices on her vehicles, which she said were tampered with to cause them to break down on the motorway.

Baby Victoria was found in a Lidl carrier bag inside a shed in a nearby allotment (Metropolitan Police)
Baby Victoria was found in a Lidl carrier bag inside a shed in a nearby allotment (Metropolitan Police)

After staying in a tent for several weeks, the couple were arrested near Brighton on 27 February last year.

The couple had refused to answer officers’ urgent questions about where their baby was and whether she was alive or dead.

Her remains were found by police in a Lidl bag inside a shed on a nearby allotment on 1 March.

On how Victoria died, she said: “I had her in my jacket and when I woke up my head was on the floor. And when I was sitting up and when I woke up she was not alive.”

After being born in a rental cottage on 24 December, Marten said that her baby daughter died on 9 January and that she had been overwhelmed with grief and had considered handing herself in.

She told jurors her children meant the world to her and she had done nothing to Victoria “but show her love”.

The defendants, of no fixed address, deny manslaughter by gross negligence, perverting the course of justice, concealing the birth of a child, child cruelty and causing or allowing the death of a child.