Constance Marten's baby 'had no clothes on' for cross-country journey to evade authorities, court hears

Aristocrat Constance Marten and her partner's new-born baby had no clothes on as the couple travelled across the country in a bid to evade the authorities, a taxi driver has claimed.

Marten, 36, and Mark Gordon, 48, are accused of the manslaughter of baby Victoria after the couple went on the run in late December 2022, sparking a two month-long manhunt.

It is said they were trying to stop the new-born baby being taken into care, and face allegations of child cruelty and neglect by not providing the youngster with adequate warmth, clothing, and food.

Taxi driver Ali Yaryar told the Old Bailey Marten had a baby tucked inside her coat when she and Gordon hired him for a £400 cross-country trip from Liverpool to Harwich in Essex on January 5 last year.

He said Marten was “shivering” when she got into his taxi, she asked for the heating to be put on, and he said she “had not much clothing on” for the winter weather.

Possessions were left strewn across the side of the road after the car fire (MPS)
Possessions were left strewn across the side of the road after the car fire (MPS)

Mr Yaryar said the couple paid upfront in cash for the trip, and he offered to switch from his taxi to his personal car so that they would be more comfortable.

“I noticed they had something, were hiding something”, he said. “There’s a baby there, inside the jacket. She was holding it.

“I asked ‘do you have a baby?’ and she said ‘yes’.”

When offered a car seat for the baby, Marten allegedly replied: “No, the baby is too small, and I can take care.”

Mr Yaryar said he had to stop at a petrol station to buy a new phone charger, and he overheard Marten discussing with Gordon buying nappies, sandwiches, and soft drinks.

“She handed the baby to the man”, he told jurors.

“The baby had no clothing on except a nappy. The baby started crying.”

John Femi-Ola KC, for Gordon, suggested that the baby was only half-dressed as her nappy was being changed in the back of the car at the time.

Mr Yaryar noticed that the couple were not carrying any bags and had few possessions, and he said he heard Marten telling Gordon he is “not very helpful”.

Inside Constance Marten and Mark Gordon's burnt out car (MPS)
Inside Constance Marten and Mark Gordon's burnt out car (MPS)

Marten and Gordon went on the run on foot after their Peugeot “exploded” on the M61, with passersby stopping to help and the emergency services being called.

A dog walker is said to have seen Marten clambering over a fence near to the motorway, while bags of their possessions were found dumped in a nearby field.

Jurors have been shown CCTV footage of the couple after they hitched a ride into Bolton, with Marten wearing a dark hooded coat with the baby tucked inside.

They took an £80 taxi ride to Liverpool from driver Muhammad Nazam, who told the court he did not immediately realise he had a third passenger.

“I could hear a baby crying, and I hadn’t until this point noticed there was a baby”, he said. “The crying was short but frequent.”

Marten and Gordon, both of no fixed address, are accused of killing the baby by gross negligence by going camping on the freezing cold South Downs during their time on the run.

They were arrested in late-February last year in Brighton, and baby Victoria’s body was found in a carrier bag in a disused shed under a pile of rubbish.

Marten and Gordon 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 is not in the dock with Gordon. Judge Mark Lucraft KC has told jurors a videolink from prison “is available and she may join us”.

The trial continues.