Constance Marten feared partner Mark Gordon would be blamed for baby death

A court sketch of Constance Marten
A court sketch of Constance Marten

Constance Marten told partner Mark Gordon to lie to police about where he was when their baby Victoria died because she feared him being blamed, she told jurors.

Ms Marten, 36, said she was worried investigators would "automatically blame [Gordon], being a black guy".

She told jurors she was "exhausted" and fell asleep with the baby in her arms the night Victoria died.

The couple deny manslaughter by gross negligence and other charges.

During her final day giving evidence under cross-examination, it was put to Ms Marten by prosecutor Joel Smith KC that Mr Gordon was present and asleep in the tent the night Victoria died.

Asked if she told Mr Gordon to say he wasn't there, she said: "Yes… I am very protective over my husband, I feel he gets blamed for everything."

She added "experiences Mark and I have been through with the authorities have not been good, and a lot of the time he gets the blame for everything".

Jurors previously heard that Mr Gordon, 49, told Ms Marten to say to the police that Victoria had not died in her arms because she would be blamed.

Ms Marten told the Old Bailey on Monday: "He advised me - 'don't say the truth on how she passed away'", adding that Mr Gordon was trying to "protect my interests".

She added: "It's not that I didn't want to lie to the police... I don't trust the police."

A nationwide search for the family began in early 2023 after their burnt-out car was found beside the motorway, near Bolton, on 5 January.

Ms Marten has previously told the court Victoria died four days after the incident with the car, and that she felt responsible for possibly causing her baby's death by falling asleep on her.

The couple were arrested in late February in Brighton, after a lengthy period moving around the country and sleeping in a tent.

Prosecutors allege the baby died at a later date than the one given by Ms Marten, and say it was the couple's "grossly negligent and obviously dangerous conduct" that caused the baby's death.

Wanted autopsy

Jurors have previously heard the couple had four other children before Victoria. All of them were taken into care.

Asked about the night Victoria died, Ms Marten said she was so tired her body had shut down.

She continued: "I think Victoria passed away because she was so well-loved... I loved her so much… I wasn't thinking of myself.

"When I eventually got in that tent, I was exhausted. I didn't have time to let myself rest.

"We went up and down to different hotels around the country... I didn't allow myself to rest."

Ms Marten also told the jury that she had wanted an autopsy to be carried out on Victoria for her "peace of mind".

She told jurors she hoped an underlying cause of death could be found, adding: "Was the onus on me? Did she pass away because I fell asleep on her?"

"I wanted to say the truth because I wanted to find out how she died," Ms Marten continued.

Ms Marten told jurors the couple discussed handing themselves in to police during the 53-day search for them, but feared the repercussions of being apprehended.

She said: "If we're caught they're going to say 'where's our baby?'… They will pile up charges, and they like to prosecute… no matter how innocent I am."

Asked by defence barrister Francis FitzGibbon KC if she had lied to the police about the circumstances around baby Victoria's death, Ms Marten replied no.

Both defendants 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.