Constance Marten and partner 'told each other to lie to police' after baby's death, jury told

Constance Marten has said she told her partner to lie to police about being present when their baby daughter died because she thought they would "automatically blame him, being a black guy".

The 36-year-old and Mark Gordon, 49, are on trial over the death of their newborn daughter Victoria who died they while on the run with her between January and February last year.

Marten told the court on Monday that she and Gordon advised each other to lie to the police about the circumstances around their baby's death to protect each other.

The couple went on the run with their baby after their car burst into flames near Bolton, Greater Manchester, on 5 January 2023, the Old Bailey has been told.

Marten has claimed her daughter died four days later on 9 January while they were living off-grid in a tent on the South Downs, East Sussex, in wintry conditions.

She said Gordon told her not to tell police the child had died while she was holding her in her sleep because officers would "blame" her.

Marten also said she told Gordon to tell police he was not there at the time.

Asked if she advised Gordon to lie to the police, she said: "Yes, I'm very protective over my husband because I feel that he gets blamed for everything."

She added: "I thought they were going to automatically blame him, being a black guy, and I am the good one usually."

Asked if it was fair to say that Gordon advised her to lie and she advised him to lie in order to protect each other, Marten said: "Yes."

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Marten told jurors she was scared police were going to "pile up charges".

"That was my fear that no matter how innocent I am they are just going to want to prosecute me," she explained.

Marten had "keeled over" with exhaustion and fell asleep before the baby died, the jury was told.

"My body couldn't take it anymore," she said.

"I literally shut down in that tent and keeled over."

Marten insisted Victoria was warm, fed and protected and said she neglected taking care of herself because she was focused on her child.

Jurors also heard Marten and Gordon discussed handing Victoria in to the authorities when she was alive.

She said they decided to "save" her from being separated from them and that when they decided to live off-grid their thought was to go somewhere "for a day or two" to get away from "prying eyes".

"We said that if we can't find a house within the next day or two then we are probably going to have to hand Victoria in," Marten said.

She added they "never intended" to live in a tent with her for months on end.

Marten told the court she and Gordon lost their drive after their baby's death.

"After Victoria died we sort of lost all of our motive and drive because everything we were doing was for her," Marten said.

"When she passed away I think we both just sort of quit. We didn't really have any drive after that."

When they were arrested in Brighton last 27 February, they had refused to answer officers' urgent questions about where their baby was and whether she was alive or dead.

Victoria's remains were found by police in a Lidl bag inside a shed on a nearby allotment on 1 March 2023.

Marten and Gordon, 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.

Marten has now finished giving evidence in the trial that continues on Tuesday.