The partner of fugitive aristocrat Constance Marten demanded food when he was arrested and was captured on video asking: “What’s the big deal?” over questions about their missing baby, a court has heard.
Marten, 36, and Mark Gordon, 49, had allegedly been living with their newborn daughter Victoria off-grid in a tent on the South Downs while on the run from police.
They became front-page news last January when Greater Manchester Police launched a missing persons inquiry after finding a placenta in the couple’s burnt-out car on a motorway near Bolton.
Last February 27, police finally tracked them down to the Hollingbury area of Brighton after they were spotted by a member of the public who called 999.
Neither defendant gave any clue to the location or welfare of their baby as they were taken into custody, the Old Bailey was told.
Days later, on March 1, baby Victoria’s body was found in a Lidl supermarket bag covered in rubbish in a disused shed.
On Tuesday, jurors watched dramatic body worn video of the defendants’ arrests.
In the footage, Marten refused to answer officers’ questions and called out to her “Daddy Bear”, telling Gordon: “I love you baby.”
Meanwhile, Gordon was also asked repeatedly where the child was and responded by demanding food and drink.
Pc Matthew Colburn told jurors that he offered ginger beer, chicken and crisps from Gordon’s shopping bag.
When Gordon asked for mayonnaise to go with his chicken, the officer replied: “We are not going to make you a sandwich, we need to work out where your child is, mate.”
During the questioning about the whereabouts of the missing child, Gordon said: “What’s the big deal?”
Pc Colburn replied: “What’s the big deal? We need to find your child, mate.”
The officer added: “The number one priority is your child. It might not be your priority, but it is everyone else’s priority.”
Pc Colburn asked if the child was dead and Gordon, who was eating off the ground, replied: “The crisps are really good.”
The officer went on: “I need to know where the baby is because I’m worried if we don’t find your child, your child might die, and that’s the most important thing right here, right now.”
Pc Colburn told jurors that he had never given a suspect food after arresting them before.
But he added: “I quickly came to the realisation they had potentially not eaten for days, weeks or even months, and from my perspective it was the humane thing to do.”
Police Sergeant Robert Button said Marten appeared to be wearing “furniture stuffing” for insulation and smelled “unclean and unwashed” when she was arrested.
He said both she and Gordon had a distinctive odour that he associated with homeless people.
On his body worn video, Sgt Button was seen to approach Gordon, saying: “Hello. Sorry mate, can you stop for a second? Stop, all right, I need to speak to you.”
Asked what about, Sgt Button said: “Well, because potentially I think you may have been in the national news.”
When Gordon denied this, he was asked why he was running away and was ordered repeatedly to put down the stick he was carrying.
As the defendant resisted, he was told: “Relax yourself, you are under arrest until I confirm who you are.”
A distressed Marten then intervened, saying: “Stop with him please, he’s not well.”
She went on: “Oh my god, I can’t watch. Leave him alone. Let him eat his food. He’s starving.”
Another officer later turned to Marten and said: “I’ll level with you, you are under arrest for child neglect.”
Marten replied: “For doing what?”
She was then asked by officers: “Where’s your child? Where’s your child? Sorry, where is your child, we need to know?”
The defendant did not respond.
A dog handler then said: “Tell me now because I’m going to send the dog into the wood to try and find someone, so you tell me where it is now.”
A discussion could be heard about carrying out an “open search” before Marten was further arrested for concealment of the birth of a child.
Marten insisted it was “not an arrestable offence”, adding: “You can’t arrest someone for hiding a pregnancy.”
Earlier that evening, CCTV captured Marten appearing to attempt to steal a tin of food from a shop.
She then withdrew cash from an ATM machine and Gordon bought food in a convenience store.
Resident Dale Cooley spotted Gordon carrying a stick, with one foot wrapped in a plastic bag, which he thought was “strange”.
He alerted police after checking a story about the missing couple on the local Argus newspaper website and consulting his wife on the phone.
The defendants, of no fixed address, deny the manslaughter of baby Victoria by gross negligence between January 4 and February 27 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 continues.