Aristocrat ‘debated’ whether to cremate baby girl with petroleum, court hears

Wealthy aristocrat Constance Marten told police she “debated” whether to cremate her baby girl with a “bottle of petroleum”, a court has heard.

The 36-year-old and her partner Mark Gordon, 49, are on trial at the Old Bailey in London accused of the manslaughter of their daughter, Victoria.

The court had previously been told the child’s body was found among other items in a bag days after the couple were tracked down by police following weeks on the run between January and February 2023.

Warning: Graphic details to follow

In a recording from March 2023, played to the court, Marten said she kept the body because she wanted a “proper burial” – but “didn’t know what to do”.

She told police: “I don’t know if you found, there’s a bottle of petroleum in the bag, erm, because I debated whether to cremate her myself, get rid of the evidence, but I decided to keep her because I knew at some point in the future I was going to be asked about it, but I just didn’t know what to do.”

The defendant also said: “I kept the body because I wanted to have an autopsy done, I didn’t bury her because wanted her to have a proper burial … so I’ve been carrying her around not knowing what to do really.

“I didn’t want to bury her in a forest, some random place because I wanted her to have a proper burial but also because I was concerned an animal might eat her, that would affect the autopsy.”

She initially told police the baby died in Harwich: “I fell asleep holding her sitting up and she, when I woke up she wasn’t alive.

“When I woke she wasn’t alive, in my jacket. I believe I fell asleep on top of her. But I literally didn’t she didn’t make any crying or movements so, and when I woke up she wasn’t alive.

“Then I was holding her in my jacket, that’s how I usually held her but I think I fell asleep crouching over her and she passed away.”

The couple were arrested in East Sussex on 27 February last year and, days later, Victoria’s body was found in a Lidl supermarket bag covered in rubbish in a disused shed.

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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