Police say 'we must consider missing baby has come to serious harm'

Police are now of the belief that Constance Marten’s child must have ‘come to serious harm’ as they continue the search for the missing baby.

Officers gave an update on the investigation at a press conference this afternoon and made a plea for anyone with information to come forward.

Det Supt Lewis Basford from the Metropolitan Police said Constance and her partner Mark Gordon remain in custody and investigators have applied for a 36-hour extension to hold them for further questioning.

Mr Basford told reporters in Brighton: ‘This is a hugely difficult and painstaking search operation, covering a vast area of some 90 square miles.

‘We’re using every resource we have at our disposal to find the baby.’

Constance and her sex-offender partner Mark Gordon were arrested in Brighton on Monday.

They were detained on suspicion of child neglect and remain in police custody after nearly two months on the run.

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Hundreds of police officers have been scouring a large area between Brighton and Newhaven to try to find the infant, who has not had any medical attention since birth in early January.

This morning, officers from London Search and Rescue could be seen in orange hi-vis jackets searching Moulsecoomb Wild Park.

The wooded nature reserve is around a mile from where Marten and Gordon were arrested.

Yesterday a pair of pink earmuffs – which it is unknown whether they belong to the child – were also found in woodland nearby.

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In a press conference yesterday, police said they still ‘hold hope’ that the missing baby is still alive, but have warned ‘risk to the child is extremely high’.

A Met Police spokesperson said: ‘Whilst we hold hope that the baby is still alive, we agree that the risk to the baby is extremely high.

‘More than 200 officers have been engaged in the search and officers arrived within 6 minutes after the 999 call yesterday that led to the arrests of Constance Marten and Mark Gordon.’

Police have also searched every shed at the Roedale Valley Allotments near where Marten and Gordon were arrested and will remain on site for some time.

An entry on the allotments society Facebook page said officers had forced entry to outbuildings as the hunt for the two-month-old baby continues.

Timeline since Constance Marten’s disappearance

Here is a timeline of events in the disappearance of Constance Marten, Mark Gordon and their baby:

– January 5 – an investigation is launched by Greater Manchester Police after the couple’s car is found on fire and abandoned on the hard shoulder of the M61 in Bolton. Investigators discover the family walked away from the car to the Anchor Lane Bridge.

– January 6 – they take a taxi to Liverpool and then onto Harwich, Essex, at around 3.30am.

– January 7 – they are seen by a member of the public in Harwich at around 9am. Later that day, they are caught on CCTV near London’s East Ham station between 10.30am and 12.30pm. From there they take a taxi to Whitechapel road, getting dropped off just before 6.15pm. It is here that Mark Gordon goes into a branch of Argos alone and buys camping equipment including sleeping bags and a two-person tent.

Photo issued by the Metropolitan Police of a CCTV image of Mark Gordon with Argos bags (Picture: PA)

The couple walk around the area for a few hours unsuccessfully trying to flag down taxis. Shortly before midnight they dump their buggy near Brick Lane, east London, and take a taxi to Haringey in north London.

– January 8 – At 1.25am the couple take another taxi from Allison Road, Haringey, all the way to Newhaven ferry port in east Sussex, where they are dropped off at 4.56am. They walk to where the A259 crosses over the B2109, and are seen sheltering from the rain under an overpass at around 6am.

At around 6.15am they walk along Cantercrow Hill into the fields beyond, carrying a number of bags and their blue tent.

– January 9 – Essex Police briefly take over the investigation due to the sightings in Harwich.

– January 12 – the Metropolitan Police take over the investigation once it is confirmed the couple travelled to east London.

– January 18 – the force makes a public appeal for help finding the family, revealing that Mr Gordon is a convicted sex offender who served 20 years in a US jail for rape and battery. They also say the couple have enough cash to live off-grid as they avoid the police.

– January 19 – Ms Marten’s father Napier Marten appeals through the Independent newspaper for his daughter to hand herself in, saying: ‘I beseech you to find a way to turn yourself and your wee one in to the police as soon as possible so you and he or she can be protected.’

Napier Marten, father of Constance Marten (Picture: Facebook)

– January 24 – Police repeat their concerns for the safety of the baby, saying they believe the couple are sleeping rough in freezing temperatures.

– January 31 – A £10,000 reward is offered by the Metropolitan Police for information leading to the family being found safe.

– February 7 – Constance’s mother Virginie de Selliers publishes an open letter to her daughter, pledging to support her and telling her ‘you are not alone’.

– February 21 – the Metropolitan Police make the latest in a number of public appeals to find the family, including a plea from midwife Shereen Nimmo to Ms Marten to get her baby medical attention.

– February 27 – 9.30pm the couple are arrested in Brighton on suspicion of child neglect after a tip-off from a member of the public.

The couple had avoided police since the infant was born in early January.

They moved around the country, paying for everything in cash and covering their faces when on CCTV.

But a tip-off led to them being detained at around 9.30pm on Monday by officers from Sussex Police in Stanmer Villas.

CCTV footage had showed Marten and Gordon walking past a row of houses in Brighton, both with their hoods up, prior to their arrest.

A neighbour told The Sun the ‘suspicious’ couple walked by her house at 8.40pm with no shopping bags, then returned at 9.25pm carrying two bags of food from a shop.

Walking behind Marten, Gordon can be seen carrying what appears to be a large metal pipe, and can be heard ‘shouting’ at her.

The aristocrat’s daughter whose family had links to the Royals

Ms Marten, 35, comes from a wealthy aristocratic family, while Mr Gordon, 48, is a sex offender who served 20 years in US jail for rape and battery.

The couple are understood to have lived an isolated life since meeting in 2016, with then-drama student Ms Marten cutting off ties with family and friends.

She grew up in Crichel House, a Dorset estate, as part of an eminent family who had links to the Royals.

According to the Sunday Times, her grandmother was a playmate of Princess Margaret, while her father Napier Marten was a page to Queen Elizabeth.

The newspaper reported that the family put the Dorset estate on the market in 2010 for £100million, before its sale to an American buyer.

Photo released by police of Constance Marten (Picture: PA)

She and Mark Gordon spent nearly two months on the run (Picture: PA)

Last September, Ms Marten and Mr Gordon began moving around the country, renting AirBnBs for brief periods.

On January 5, they were on the M61 when their car broke down and caught fire near junction four at Farnworth, Bolton.

Each time Ms Marten and Mr Gordon were seen on CCTV, they covered their faces or looked away, and kept the baby covered up.

Both her parents had pleaded for Ms Marten to contact police, saying they were ‘deeply concerned’ for their grandchild’s safety.

In an audio appeal, made through The Independent, Mr Marten said: ‘Darling Constance, even though we remain estranged at the moment, I stand by, as I have always done and as the family has always done, to do whatever is necessary for your safe return to us.

‘I beseech you to find a way to turn yourself and your wee one in to the police as soon as possible so you and he or she can be protected.

‘Only then can a process of healing and recovery begin, however long it may take, however difficult it may be.

‘I would like you to understand that the family will do all that is needed for your wellbeing.

‘And I also wish you to understand you are much, much loved, whatever the circumstances.

‘We are deeply concerned for your and your baby’s welfare. The past eight years have been beyond painful for all the family as well as your friends, as they must have been for you, and to see you so vulnerable again is testing in the extreme.’

Ms Marten’s parents both pleaded with her to come forward (Picture: Facebook)

In an open letter, her mother Mrs de Selliers wrote: ‘I know you well enough; you are focused, intelligent, passionate and complex with so much to offer the world. So many of your friends have come forward to say such positive things about you, assuring us of their warmest love and support for you and your family.

‘You have made choices in your personal adult life which have proven to be challenging, however I respect them, I know that you want to keep your precious new-born child at all costs.

‘With all that you have gone through this baby cannot be removed from you but instead needs looking after in a kind and warm environment.

‘I want to help you and my grandchild. You deserve the opportunity to build a new life, establish a stable family and enjoy the same freedoms that most of us have.

‘Constance, I will do what I can to stand alongside you and my grandchild. You are not alone in this situation. We will support you in whatever way we can.

‘I am ready to do what it takes for you to recover from this awful experience so you can thrive and enjoy motherhood. I love you and miss you, Mum xx.’

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