Missing baby feared dead as police arrest aristocrat and boyfriend
2023/03/01

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Police are continuing to question aristocrat Constance Marten and her boyfriend Mark Gordon amid fears officers will not find their newborn baby.

Marten, 35, and Gordon, 48, were , Brighton, on Monday evening and were initially arrested on suspicion of child neglect after a 53-day search for the couple.

But senior police officers have now added suspicion of gross negligence manslaughter in the first indication that hope of finding the missing two-month-old tot alive was starting to fade. 

The child was not with them and more than 200 police were last night conducting frantic searches across the South Downs, with hundreds more expected to join the desperate search on Wednesday.

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Detective Superintendent Lewis Basford, the senior investigating officer in the search, insisted his team still remained hopeful. But in a press conference this afternoon he 'this may not end in the way that we would like' because the couple had refused to reveal its location despite being quizzed for a 'significant period of time'.

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Fears for the infant were growing as police launched an urgent search operation after arresting aristocrat Constance Marten  (left) and Mark Gordon (right) in a residential street following a tip-off from a member of the public at about 9.30pm on Monday 

But so far, the missing infant has yet to be found. Police don't even know the gender of the infant

The detective superintendent said the odds of finding the infant alive were dwindling by the hour, adding: 'If you know where this baby is, talk to us.'

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'The interview process is continuing,' he told a press conference. 

The couple have not given the location of the baby - nor its gender - and are said to be still refusing to cooperate with police.

However, Supt Basford appealed to the public to come forward with any information as to the baby's whereabouts and said police were still offering a £10,000 reward for information that leads to its safe discovery.

The officer said police could not rule out the fact the couple, who had a large amount of cash on them, may have come across someone who was sympathetic to their plight.

He said: 'Whilst we still have hope the baby can be found safe and well we must maintain that hope.

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'In terms of the coldness and the impact that would have on a baby then clearly the risk is getting higher and we have to be open to the fact this may not end in the way we would like.'

He said: 'We always have to keep an open mind in he investigation. It is areason why we offered the £10,000 reward and that reward remains open.'

Officers believe Marten and Gordon, who are believed to have been living rough in the Sussex Downs area for the last two months, may have abandoned their baby while seeking supplies.

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Detective Superintendent Lewis Basford (left), the senior investigating officer, involved in the search for the missing baby speaking during a press conference this afternoon 

Detective Superintendent Lewis Basford (left) and Superintendent James Collis speaking to the media outside Roedale Valley Allotments, West Sussex, where an urgent search operation is underway to find the missing baby of Constance Marten

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Hundreds of police have been involved in the search for the missing baby in allotment sites and woods in the north of Brighton

Today the father of the runaway aristocrat said he was 'very alarmed' the baby had still not been found in the area where the family are believed to have been camping in temperatures as low as -1C.

Napier Marten, who was a page to the late Queen, said: 'It is an immense relief to know my beloved daughter Constance has been found, tempered by the very alarming news her baby has yet to be found.

'For whatever reasons she and her partner went on the run, the consequences of their actions have increased manyfold. It would have been far better if they had handed themselves in earlier.'

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Police finally caught up with them when a member of the public reported hearing them rowing in a shopping street in Brighton just before 9.30pm last night.

with shopping, strolling along a street just four minutes before police arrived to arrest them on suspicion of child neglect.

Witnesses described the aristocrat as tearful, yelling at officers to 'get off' Gordon when he was restrained. She said she was worried about his mental health.

One witness claimed Gordon struggled and took 40 minutes to be subdued.

Supt Basford said police had to consider the possibility that the child had 'come to harm'.

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This is runaway aristocrat Constance Marten (right) and her lover Mark Gordon (left) moments before their arrest in Brighton last night. Audio of them walking past this house revealed they may have been rowing

He added: 'We have had a significant period of time in custody facility with both Constance and Mark. At this time we have not furthered that information, which has now obviously led to the position where we feel that the risk is getting so great that we now have to consider the possibility that the baby has come to harm.

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'I can confirm that they were initially arrested on suspicion of child neglect. I can now confirm that they have been further arrested on suspicion of gross negligence manslaughter and that they remain in custody at police stations in Sussex.'

More than 200 officers from Sussex Police and the Met are continuing to search a vast area north of Brighton for the child, who was not with its parents when they were arrested.

Police helicopters, sniffer dogs, helicopters and drones are current being used to try and find the missing tot. 

Marten and Gordon are still be quizzed by detectives in separate police stations across Sussex. 

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As the search for the missing tot continues, police have expanded their plea for help, urging those between Brighton and New Haven who may have seen anything suspicious to come forward.

Officers are particularly keen to speak to anyone who saw people rough camping in the New Haven area of East Sussex to come forward. 

Det Supt Basford said there was 'significant intelligence' to suggest to pair had been spending 'significant time outdoors'

Constance was apparently tearful when police swooped in Golf Drive and yelled at them to 'get off' her lover when he was restrained, saying she was worried about his mental health. One witness claimed he struggled and took 40 minutes to be subdued.

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Marten, who hails from an aristocratic family with links to the , had a heavy winter coat on and was carrying a bag of shopping. They had been spotted at a nearby convenience store - and someone called 999.

Her partner Gordon was following closely behind holding two shopping bags and a large stick that looks to have been taken from nearby woods. 

But their newborn baby was nowhere to be seen in the 20-second clip - with police today continuing a desperate search to find the child that detectives hope is still alive.

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Police search teams in Roedale Valley Allotments, Brighton, where an urgent search operation is underway to find the missing baby of Constance Marten. 200 officers are looking

Mulberry's shop on Hollingbury Place in Brighton where Constance Marten was spotted withdrawing money by a member of the public who alerted police

Police have also revealed: 

They hold hope the baby is still alive but admit risk to the child is 'extremely high' and gets worse with every hour; The couple have not given the location of the baby - or its gender. Forensics are testing a placenta found on January 5 to find out;

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No tents or other items of significance have been found since the search began last night; Main line of inquiry is that the couple had the baby - but detectives cannot rule out that they have found someone like minded and offered them cash to look after the child; The child has never been seen on TV but two taxi drivers have said they saw the baby moving and crying; Last night was the first sighting of the couple since January 8, in Newhaven, and they were arrested six minutes after a 999 call from someone who recognised them from public appeals; 

The couple were caught on a doorbell camera heading towards Roedale Valley Allotments in Brighton at 9.25pm last night.

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They were arrested on suspicion of child neglect just five minutes later having returned from a local convenience store.

The woman who gave MailOnline the footage, a 42-year-old mother of two, who asked to remain anonymous, said: 'They were talking loudly, that's what got my attention.

'I've never seen them around here before, they were wearing a lot of layers as it was cold.

'I couldn't tell what they were saying but the man seemed to me to be slightly angry.

'They'd been to the shops around the corner and were heading back somewhere. They were both carrying bags filled with food.

'About ten minutes or so later, there was a load of blue flashing lights and looking out the window I could see the whole street filled with police cars.'

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A man who watched police swoop on Marten and Gordon said today: 'It was very dramatic.

'I was sitting in my van at the time, about 9.30pm last night. There was a couple in front of me. Two police officers, one male and one female, and they approached the couple.

'They went for the man first, he was struggling and resisting arrest. The woman he was with was shouting at the officers and telling them to be careful as he had issues with mental health.

'A second police car arrived and the back-up officers helped subdue the man. They were kneeling on his back. He was groaning in pain.

'The woman was handcuffed but she was treated much more gently. The man must have resisted arrest for about 40-minutes. I was worried because there was about three or four officers trying to subdue him. They were on top of him to stop him from running off.'

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Officers were searching sheds, compost bins and the undergrowth for clues as they hunt for the baby of Constance Marten

A pair of pink child's earmuffs is collected by a police officer and put in an evidence bag in Roedale Valley Allotments, Brighton, where an urgent search operation is underway to find the missing baby of Constance Marten

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The Metropolitan Police has sent scores of officers down to Brighton to help with the search

An officer at the allotment told MailOnline this morning the site was a 'potential crime scene'. They were seen taking pictures of an oil drum (pictured)

Meanwhile, Mr Marten also told : 'It would have been far better if they handed themselves in earlier and whatever the weather, I love her dearly. It is an immense relief to know my beloved daughter Constance has been found, tempered by the very alarming news her baby has yet to be found.

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READ MORE: Police conduct fingertip search of allotment in hunt for missing baby 

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'For whatever reasons she and her partner went on the run, the consequences of their actions have increased many fold. It would have been far better if they had handed themselves in earlier.'

He continued: 'The police to whom I am profoundly grateful, committed great resources to try to find Constance, all of which, it was always hoped, could have been avoided.

'I would like to thank Det. Sup. Bashford and his team for their dogged investigation to bring her disappearance to a close. I would also like to thank the person or persons who called the Police when they saw the couple.

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'When the time comes, I am longing to see Constance to reassure her that, whatever the weather, I love her dearly and will support her as best I can through the difficult weeks and months here on in.'

Officers have been going from house to house in the area, searching gardens, bushes and alleyways for the infant. Specialist search teams have also been working through the night in an area of woods at the end of the street where the couple were found. Police are also scouring Hollingbury Golf Club, seen as the gateway to the Sussex Downs. 

A blue forensic tent has been erected in the street, where a car and caravan can also be seen in an area backing on to woods and allotments, and the Metropolitan Police is helping with the search of open land and outbuildings. The public has been urged to search their sheds and garages for the newborn.

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The couple were arrested in the street after two police cars rushed to the scene. Anna Drake, 34, said: 'The couple were seen around Hollingbury Place - a parade of shops. They had shopping and supplies and they were heading back towards the allotments.

'They were recognised and followed and that person called the police. Officers in a police car then attempted to arrest them and then back-up arrived.

'There was quite a commotion. I don't think there was a struggle but they had to wait for a van to arrive.'

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A van full of search equipment close to woodland in Brighton today

Police search teams in Roedale Valley Allotments, Brighton, where an urgent search operation is underway to find the missing baby of Constance Marten, who has not had any medical attention since birth in early January

Search teams search local allotments  close to where Constance Marten and Mark Gordon have been sleeping rough after travelling around the UK by taxi

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Officers are looking for the baby in woodland that leads to the Sussex Downs

Napier Marten told the Independent he loves his daughter dearly but it would have been 'far better' if she and boyfriend Mark Gordon had handed themselves in earlier.

READ MORE: From a burnt out car on a motorway in Bolton, to residential street in Brighton: The 54 day hunt for runaway couple Constance Marten and Mark Gordon

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It is thought the couple may have been living rough in a shed or greenhouse on the allotments.

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This morning police were carrying out a fingertip search of around 10 allotments.

They found a pair of child's pink earmuffs and put them in an evidence bag.

They also concentrated their examination on an old drum on the allotments fashioned into a makeshift barbecue.

The top of the oil drum was sealed with polythene and two officers were placed on guard next to it.

At least a dozen officers were also concentrating their searches on an area of sheds and bushes at the site.

Police say the couple were believed to have been walking off the Sussex Downs at around 9.30pm last night when they were seen by a member of the public who called 999.

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Police rushed to the scene and drones, the force helicopter and dozens of the officers launched a hunt that has continued all night.

James Dunne, 28, who lives close by, said: 'I heard they'd been seen in the street and a call went out to the police. Within minutes the place was flooded with uniformed officers with lights and torches and vans.

'It was frantic. I've been told they've been searching for the baby all night and using heat-seeking cameras and other specialist gear. A baby that age wouldn't last very long without heat and shelter.'

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A blue forensic tent has been erected in the street, and a car and caravan can also be seen where the couple were arrested after being spotted last night

Police search teams in Roedale Valley Allotments, Brighton, where an urgent search operation is underway to find the missing baby of Constance Marten, who has not had any medical attention since birth in early January

Police are searching an allotment close to where an aristocrat's daughter and her lover were arrested following 54 days on the run.

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Ms Marten and her partner Mark Gordon are in police custody after being arrested in Brighton. The pair had been travelling around the UK by taxi since their car was found burning on the M61 in Bolton, Greater Manchester, on January 5

Police are searching sheds and outbuildings for signs of the child. Officers are asking the public to do the same 

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Police searching for the baby of Constance Marten, 35, and Mark Gordon, 48, in Brighton

Teams of officers from Sussex Police and London's Met Police are scouring the land for the child

Officers this morning searching an area near Stanmer Villas in Brighton, East Sussex, for the baby who went missing with Constance Marten and Mark Gordon almost two months ago

The 999 call came as temperatures in Brighton dipped to -1C for the second night in a row and local residents believe the couple may have been driven out of open land by the severe cold.

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Dean Edwards, said: 'It was freezing last night, really cold, and the couple must have been forced to get off the Downs and try and find some proper shelter from the cold.

'Police immediately headed up towards the woods and the allotments and that is where the search has been concentrated. Everyone just hopes the baby can be found alive.'

Laetitia Long, 30, said: 'Police were searching all night and we could hear the sound of he police helicopter above us. It is quite terrifying really to think that a baby could be out there in the cold all alone. It's made me very tearful.

'It was madness to try and camp in this weather. I can't believe they have been out in it for so long.'

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Police also appear to be hunting in the Stanmer Park Nature Reserve, further out of the city, close to Brighton and Hove Albion's Amex Stadium.

Marten, who had a family trust fund, had withdrawn large amounts of cash, between £5,000 and £15,000, as an escape fund before going on the run. The couple are believed to have bought burner phones and multiple sim cards to avoid being traced. They slept in tents and were spotted in the north-west, London, Essex and across the south-east of London, including at major ports.

The baby is believed to have been born in the back seat of car on around January 5.  

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Teams of police have been hunting for the couple's baby through the night

Officers search under a car in Stanmer Villas, Brighton

An officer searches scrubland after the arrests of Constance Marten and Mark Gordon, who have been sleeping rough and travelling around the UK by taxi for six weeks

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A blue forensic tent has been erected in the street, and a car and caravan can be seen where the couple were arrested after being spotted last night

After almost two months of hunting, Marten and Gordon were spotted and arrested 270 miles away without their child. 

The couple have been travelling around the UK by taxi since their car was found burning on the M61 in Bolton, Greater Manchester, on January 5.

Authorities previously believed the couple had been sleeping rough in a blue tent, and had avoided being traced by the police by moving around frequently and keeping their faces covered in CCTV images.

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The couple travelled from Bolton to Liverpool, then to Harwich in Essex, then to east London and then to Newhaven in East Sussex, where they were seen near the ferry port on January 8.

Miss Marten, who is from a wealthy aristocratic family, was a promising drama student when she met Mr Gordon in 2016.

Since then the couple have led an isolated life, and in September, when Miss Marten was well into her pregnancy, began moving around rental flats.

It is unknown if the baby was born at full-term or has any health issues.

Anyone who may be able to assist in the search for the couple's baby is urged to contact 999.

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January 5: The baby was born in the back of this car - which was then torched and left on the M61

January 7: CCTV footage shows Marten and Gordon on Whitechapel Road in London

January 7: Marten was spotted outside Harwich Port at 9am and later in Colchester

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January 7: Constance Marten and Mark Gordon outside East Ham station at around 11.45am

January 8: Mark Gordon and Constance Marten in Allison Road, Haringey, north London

January 8: Marten and Gordon were last spotted on Avis Road, Newhaven 

A member of the public reported a sighting in Stanmer Villas, Brighton

Metropolitan Police said an urgent search operation is underway to find Marten's baby, who has not had any medical attention since birth in early January

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