'Jesus survived in a barn': Marten defends keeping baby in tent and denies 'dumping' her body

By John Mercury March 14, 2024

Constance Marten has defended her decision to live in a tent with her newborn baby who later died, telling her trial: “Jesus survived in a barn.”

Marten, 36, explained her reasoning for living on the run with her partner Mark Gordon, 49, and their daughter Victoria.

Victoria’s body was found in a Lidl bag inside an allotment shed after the pair were arrested in Brighton in February last year.

She told jurors at the Old Bailey that Bedouin families walk through cold deserts with their children.

“People around the world live in conditions like that… as long as your child is well taken care of and loved,” she said.

When asked if she agreed with medical advice not to expose newborn babies to the cold for long periods, she added: “I do not agree with it because there are babies who spend hours outside.

“People live in countries without central heating.”

Constance Marten and Mark Gordon trial: New bodycam footage
Constance Marten as she was arrested. Pic: Met Police

Mark Gordon during his arrest
Mark Gordon as he was arrested. Pic: Met Police

When accused by the prosecution of being “hideously ill-prepared” to look after Victoria, she said: “It was only a pitstop.

“We were not thinking about being there for months. It was more in the immediacy rather than long-term planning.”

The couple were constantly on the move in a bid to evade the authorities, as four of her other children had been taken into care, she told the court previously.

She said two of her other children had been spat on and physically abused in care.

“A mother’s love for her child is incredibly strong,” she told the jury.

“There was no way I was going to part with my child. We were hiding from the entire British public because I was worried about Victoria being taken.”

The shed where little Victoria's remains were found. Pic: Met Police
The shed where Victoria’s remains were found. Pic: Met Police

‘Pretty outdoorsy’

Asked whether it was uncomfortable in the tent, she replied: “I’m pretty outdoorsy but I would rather be in a bed.”

She went on: “We were not looking to live in a tent. We were acting on instinct. She was our number one priority. We were living in a tent for Victoria.”

Marten was then quizzed on her baby’s body being found inside a carrier bag.

The baby was found in this Lidl carrier bag. Pic: Met Police
Victoria was found in a Lidl carrier bag. Pic: Met Police

She insisted she had not “dumped” Victoria.

“It’s awful, I know. The only thing I can say, if someone passes away the immediate reaction is panic,” Marten told the court.

“Mark and I were not in a good place. We were in fear and grief. She was not dumped anywhere. She was with us the whole time.”

The jury was shown CCTV of Marten carrying her daughter under a zipped-up jacket in east London on 7 January 2023.

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CCTV shows Marten and her baby in east London

She accepted that at times it looked as though Victoria’s head was not supported.

But Marten said: “She’s fine. If she was not, she would be howling. I’m confident with my children. As long as it’s secure. People carry children in their arms all the time.”

Marten and Gordon had to abandon their belongings after the car they were in caught fire near Bolton, Greater Manchester on 5 January last year.

They were arrested in Brighton on 27 February and refused to answer police questions about their baby and whether she was alive or dead.

Victoria was found dead on 1 March 2023.

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.

The trial continues.


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