Marten says ‘influential’ family backed social serviceson March 14, 2024 at 5:42 pm

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Constance Marten’s family were “embarrassed” of her children with Mark Gordon, she tells the Old Bailey.

Sketch of Constance Marten in courtImage source, Julia Quenzler

Constance Marten has told a jury at the Old Bailey that her “influential” family supported social services when they took her children into care.

She said her family were embarrassed the children didn’t come from an “upper class privileged background”.

The court previously heard she and co-defendant Mark Gordon had four other children together. All were taken into care.

The couple deny causing the death of a fifth child, a baby named Victoria.

Ms Marten, 36, continued to give evidence on Thursday. She and Mr Gordon, 49, are accused of manslaughter by gross negligence, which they deny.

Under prosecution cross-examination, Ms Marten said: “Problem I had was I was going up against not just social services but family members.”

She said her family have “huge connections in this country, including in Parliament”, adding: “If they said to social services ‘jump’, social services would say ‘how high?’.”

Ms Marten continued: “They had the full backing of my family who didn’t agree with me having these children.”

She was also pressed as to whether she would lie for her child during her fifth day of giving evidence.

Ms Marten told the court: “I would be prepared to lie to save my child… I would throw myself in front of a bus for my child.”

Prosecution counsel Joel Smith quoted from the “golden rules” espoused by Ian Josephs, who runs a website called Forced Adoption. One of the rules on the site is to never contact social services or child protection for help or advice.

Asked whether she agreed, Ms Marten replied: “Absolutely true.”

She was then asked about advice on the same website to consider very carefully before reporting a partner who “batters you” or even a stranger who sexually assaults your child.

In response to a child being sexually harmed, Ms Marten said, “you should go to the police”.

A nationwide search for the couple began on 5 January last year after police found a placenta in their car which had caught on fire on the M61 near Bolton in Greater Manchester.

The couple went on the run with Victoria and ended up camping on the South Downs in East Sussex, where their newborn died.

Victoria’s body was later found in a supermarket bag which also contained rubbish, the court has previously heard.

When the prosecutor put it to Ms Marten that she “stripped” her baby of “dignity in death” by storing the body in a bag, she replied: “I definitely could have given her a burial…”

Ms Marten told the jury that she hoped to bury her daughter one day, adding: “She will have her dignity… that is not Victoria”.

She also described her body as being like a “spacesuit” and said “her spirit is what’s important”.

The prosecution allege it was the couple’s “grossly negligent and obviously dangerous conduct” that caused the death of their baby daughter.

The trial has previously heard how a post-mortem examination jointly carried out by two pathologists could not determine a cause of death.

Prosecutors continued to press Ms Marten on Thursday over whether she and Mr Gordon had sufficient provisions with them to keep the baby safe while they were living outdoors.

But Ms Marten insisted that Victoria died in her arms after she fell asleep on her.

She told the Old Bailey: “She did not die of hypothermia… I was there to protect my child… if I thought for one minute it wasn’t sustainable I wouldn’t have stayed in that tent.”

Ms Marten later said: “People have lived outside for millennia… I don’t have a problem living outside with my children as long as they are kept warm and fed.”

She and Mr Gordon, 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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