Constance Marten was spotted walking through a park carrying her lifeless baby in a sling more than a month after she and her lover went on the run, the Old Bailey has heard.
The wealthy aristocrat, 36, and Mark Gordon, 49, are accused of killing their newborn daughter Victoria after going ‘off grid’ in ‘obviously dangerous’ conditions in the middle of winter.
Witnesses have described encountering the trio as they criss-crossed the country, telling jurors how they were concerned for the infant who was seen dressed in nothing but a nappy or onesie.
On Wednesday, they were shown harrowing images of belongings recovered from the couple’s burnt-out car which sparked a nationwide search, including a baby’s blanket, sleeping bag, coat and mittens.
Marten and Gordon were arrested in East Sussex on February 27 last year close to where they had been camping out in a ‘thin and flimsy’ tent as temperatures plunged to -2C.
Days later their daughter was found dead in a Lidl bag covered in rubbish inside a disused shed.
Opening the trial last week, prosecutor Tom Little KC said the infant ‘would still be alive if it was not for their reckless, utterly selfish, callous, cruel, arrogant and ultimately grossly negligent conduct’.
Pauline Mason told jurors on Wednesday she and her husband went to Stanmer Park in Brighton for some ‘fresh air’ on February 19.
Mrs Mason was in a mobility scooter and her husband was walking when she saw a tent near Stoney Mere Way.
She said: ‘I noticed a tent, the tent was royal blue, it was not very big. I just thought it might be a hiker.
‘My husband had walked ahead of me and I shouted to him, “Come over, what’s that tent doing there?”
‘He said, “Dunno, someone is sleeping out on a cold night”. I was taken aback by it then continued on my scooter.’
Further on, she noticed a ‘mum with baby’, Mrs Mason said.
Mr Little asked: ‘What did you notice, if anything, about the baby?’
Mrs Mason said: ‘The mother was focused on the baby, her eyes were totally focused on that baby and my eyes went from her to the baby.
‘The baby was in a sling. She was holding her around the baby’s head to steady it.’
The child was very pale, did not make any sound and her head was ‘wobbling’, ‘floppy’ and ‘unsteady’, the witness said.
She was ‘very surprised’ to see the child had no hat, socks or booties on and was only wearing a cardigan and leggings.
Mrs Mason said the woman looked tired and she felt sorry for her.
A few steps behind was Gordon, she said, adding: ‘He looked at me and acknowledged that I had looked at the baby and gave me a smile.’
Mr Little said: ‘At that point in time, as you had seen the baby for six to eight seconds, you then continued on your fresh air turn around Stanmer Park. Did you think the baby was alive?’
Mrs Mason replied: ‘I kept thinking and thinking about that baby. I thought that the colour, it did not go.’
She spoke about her experience that ‘mixed-race’ babies were ‘rosy cheeked’, adding: ‘There was no colour and that baby was white.
‘I do think that baby had died. It was dead.’
Asked if anything else caused her to think that, she said: ‘It was inappropriately dressed. There was no blanket, no hat, no socks, thin cardigan.’
Mrs Mason said she continued up the path but looked back towards the couple because she ‘could not believe’ what she had seen.
Cross-examining for Gordon, John Femi-Ola KC asked if she could have been mistaken about seeing him.
She replied: ‘Yes, I might have been but I believe that they connected and as soon as I saw her and him behind her I knew they were together.’
On seeing the baby, she said: ‘I was quite shocked when I saw it. I did not want to believe it.
‘I did not want to know it was dead.’
Previously, jurors viewed CCTV of Victoria alive and moving around with the pair in East Ham, east London, on January 7 last year.
The couple moved on to Whitechapel, where Gordon had bought a two-person tent and camping bedding, including a children’s unicorn sleeping bag, in Argos, the court was told.
The couple allegedly abandoned a buggy and were carrying Argos bags and a Lidl bag when they got into a black cab shortly after midnight on January 8.
In a statement read to the court, taxi driver Abdirisakh Mohamud said he became ‘suspicious’ and ‘uncomfortable’ during the journey.
The male passenger allegedly asked the driver if he was a Muslim, whether he was ‘trustworthy’ and if there were cameras in the cab.
Mr Mohamud said he told the man there were cameras, even though there were not, because he wanted to feel ‘safe’.
The man then asked him: ‘Are you sharing this conversation with anyone?’ and Mr Mohamud said ‘no’, jurors heard.
He asked the couple why they were wearing blue Covid facemasks, and the woman said she was a Muslim and it was her ‘hijab’, the court heard.
On being told by the driver that it was not a hijab, she allegedly told him it was the only thing she had.
The man said he was wearing a mask because he ‘had a problem with his hair’, the witness said.
Mr Mohamud said he decided to drop the couple off early in Green Lanes, Haringey, rather than Enfield Tesco Extra where they had asked to go.
He said: ‘The more I thought about it, the more concerned I felt about the baby.’
Another taxi driver, Hasan Guzel, described hearing ‘meowing’ noises when he drove the couple from Haringey to Newhaven in East Sussex early on January 8.
He said: ‘I heard what sounded like a cat meowing. I was annoyed at first because I thought she had a pet without telling me.
‘I could see it was a baby, I could see the noise was coming from a baby. I thought, why didn’t she tell me about this, it’s been nearly four hours we have been travelling.’
He said that when he dropped them in Newhaven, it was cold and dark and he was ‘concerned as to what they were going to do next’.
The couple were captured on CCTV heading towards the South Downs at around 6.30am and were not spotted again until they were seen at a Texaco garage four days later, on January 12.
The defendants, of no fixed address, deny manslaughter 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.
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