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Inside the burned out car ‘abandoned by on-the-run aristocrat and partner with tragic baby’

A placenta was among the charred objects found in a burnt-out vehicle a couple fled from with their newborn baby, a court has heard.

New images, released by the Metropolitan Police on Monday after they were shown to a jury in the ongoing trial of Constance Marten and Mark Gordon, show the Peugeot 206 in flames on the M61. Tattered clothes and bottles lay strewn on the ground next to the destroyed car.

A woman was seen climbing over the motorway barrier, the court was told.

A placenta was among the charred objects found in the burnt out vehicle, the trial heard (PA)
A placenta was among the charred objects found in the burnt out vehicle, the trial heard (PA)

After their car burst into flames, Marten, 39, and Gordon, 49, allegedly spent hundreds of pounds on taxis and lived off-grid before their arrests in East Sussex on 27 February last year.

The couple were allegedly motivated by a “selfish” desire to keep their newborn daughter Victoria after four other children were taken into care.

They travelled across England in taxis and ended up living off-grid before their arrest in East Sussex last February, jurors heard.

Tattered clothes and bottles lay strewn on the ground next to the destroyed vehicle (PA)
Tattered clothes and bottles lay strewn on the ground next to the destroyed vehicle (PA)

Days later, their child was found dead in a Lidl supermarket bag covered in rubbish inside a disused shed, the Old Bailey was told.

On Monday, a member of the public described confronting the couple near Harwich port in Essex after watching a news report about their disappearance.

Dale Gosling was taking his dog for a walk when he came across the defendants sitting on a flower planter and recognised them from the television, he told jurors.

“It was freezing cold,” he said. “There was frost on the floor. There was chill in the air, a fresh January morning to say the least.”

Footage of the couple’s car burning on the M61 (PA)
Footage of the couple’s car burning on the M61 (PA)

Mr Gosling said the baby was dressed in a white onesie and wrapped inside Marten’s coat in a towel or blanket.

She gave the kind of cry he “could not walk away from”, Mr Gosling said.

Prosecutor Joel Smith asked: “To you, did the baby sound distressed?”

Mr Gosling said: “Most definitely.”

CCTV footage shows the destroyed car (PA)
CCTV footage shows the destroyed car (PA)

Describing his exchange with the pair, Mr Gosling told jurors: “I said ‘Excuse me, are you the people who are on the television advertised as missing with a new baby?’

“I cannot remember his exact words but he denied it. I offered them a lift to the hospital. He said he was doing the best for his child, he wanted to keep his family together and do the right thing and something like that.

“They said they thought they had plans. They knew what they were doing. They said they were trying to go to London to try to see family or friends.”

Constance Marten and her partner Mark Gordon were allegedly motivated by a ‘selfish’ desire to keep their daughter Victoria, their trial has heard (PA Media)
Constance Marten and her partner Mark Gordon were allegedly motivated by a ‘selfish’ desire to keep their daughter Victoria, their trial has heard (PA Media)

Mr Gosling said he felt compelled to turn around and speak to them again because something was “not right”.

He said the baby was crying “consistently” as Marten walked around cradling her in her arms trying to settle her.

Mr Gosling said he offered to take the couple home with him, give them a cup of tea and then take them to hospital.

He added that even though he thought his wife would “do her nut” at the idea, he felt it was the “morally correct thing to do”.

“Ms Marten, she seemed compliant, she was willing to come, maybe have a cup of tea, maybe get a lift to the hospital. She seems a bit swayed,” he said.

“Mr Gordon was quite insistent he was alright. He had a plan, he was going to London to stay with his friends and family.”

The defendants, of no fixed address, deny manslaughter by gross negligence of the girl between 4 January 4 and 27 February last year.

They are also charged with perverting the course of justice, concealing the birth of a child, child cruelty, and causing or allowing the death of a child.

The Old Bailey trial was adjourned until Tuesday morning.