Who is Constance Marten? Missing aristocrat found on run with rapist Mark Gordon - family Royal links
Missing aristocrat Constance Marten and her rapist lover Mark Gordon were on the run with their newborn baby
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A missing aristocrat and her sex-offender partner have been found in Brighton amid a huge search to find their baby.
Officers were 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.
The Metropolitan Police said the pair were located by officers from Sussex Police in Stanmer Villas, Brighton on Monday night after a member of the public reported seeing them shortly before 9.30pm.
Constance Marten, 35, and her ex-convict boyfriend Mark Gordon, 48, were last seen in the early hours of the morning on 8 January in Newhaven, East Sussex. The couple sparked a police hunt after being spotted leaving a burning car on foot on the M61 near Bolton earlier in the month with their newborn baby.
Marten comes from a wealthy family with connections to the royals, and has lived an isolated life since meeting her lover Gordon in 2016. He was previously imprisoned in the USA for rape. A £10,000 reward has previously been offered in the hunt for information on the trio’s whereabouts.
Det Supt Lewis Basford said previously that around 50 officers were working on the case at any one time and more than 630 hours of CCTV have been viewed. There have been more than 350 calls to police from the public with information following previous appeals.
Despite being estranged from her family, who own the enormous Crichel Down estate in Dorset, it is believed that Constance has a substantial amount of money, which allowed her and Gordon to “live off the grid”.
Her father Napier Marten made a public appeal on 19 January urging his “darling” daughter to “do whatever is necessary for your safe return to us”. He said the family has lived “in great concern”, knowing of Gordon’s past, “for some time”.
The couple were also sighted on 7 January in London buying a tent and bedding, which followed positive identifications in Bolton and Essex. Police drew attention to the fact the couple were using cash and urged hotels to review any recent bookings where the payment was made in cash.
Who are the Marten family?
Constance, also known as Toots, comes from the aristocratic Marten family, who have long been the subject of national intrigue and speculation. Her grandmother Mary Anna Marten made legal history during the Crichel Down affair, which caused a political scandal in 1954 and led to new guidelines applying to compulsory purchase being drawn up and implimented.
Mary Marten was the god-daughter of the Queen Mother and Toots’ father Napier Marten is reported to have been a page to Queen Elizabeth II. Mary’s wedding to Lt.-Cdr. George (Toby) Gosselin Marten was attended by George VI, the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret.
The Crichel estate includes a Grade-I listed mansion, four villages and a cricket club. It was put up for sale by the family in 2010 and was bought by an American buyer.
Napier Marten made headlines in 2013 after renouncing his £115 million inheritance and giving up the Crichel estate in Dorset, after being told to “by a voice”. The Times reported at the time that he gave up the family’s seat to live a life of whale-watching, spiritual discovery and tree surgery, swapping the grand estate for living in a lorry.
In an interview with a woman he claims to have met 400 years ago in Dorset in a previous incarnation, he explained his reasons for shaving his head and giving up his inheritance. He said that he was obeying a voice “inside of me saying daily and sometimes many times daily to shave my head and go to Australia”.
He revealed he had got to a point “where everything in my life materially was a completely empty shell”.
Who is Constance Marten?
The 35-year-old missing mother has been moving around the country with her partner since September last year, renting Airbnbs in different locations. She studied at the University of Leeds, spending a year abroad in Cairo and according to her LinkedIn page won Al Jazeera’s 2013 ‘Through the Lens of Al Jazeera’ competition for a photo taken during the 2011 Egyptian revolution.
On a now-defunct website constance.marten.com she is described as a “journalist and photographer” focusing on “documentary photography, travel, culture, and religion photography”. The digital archive Wayback Machine shows the site in 2018, featuring an image with a copyright marking crediting Constance Marten.
Her LinkenIn page shows that she worked as a researcher for Al Jazeera for 11 months between 2012 and 2013 as well as a spell as a project manager for Rich Mix Theatre and a freelance journalist for the Daily Mail. She had previously featured as an "it girl" in Tatler Magazine.
It's also been reported that she had trained at the East 15 drama school in Essex and developed a reputation as a talented actor. In 2016, Constance began dating Mark Gordon and became estranged from her family. They are reported to have lived in the Eltham area of south London until 2020.
Despite being pregnant, it has been reported that Constance did not seek any medical assistance throughout the pregnancy. Authorities have urged her to come forward to make sure the baby is “safe and well”.
Who is Mark Gordon?
Constance’s partner is 48-year-old Mark Gordon. The pair are said to have been together since 2016 and are currently missing. He served 20 years in prison in Florida for rape and battery. Gordon was just 14 when he committed the crimes and they related to an attack on a woman in her early 20s.
Gordon is a registered sex offender in the US. His records have been made public on Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s website. The records also show that Gordon was convicted of kidnap in relation to the attack on the woman in Florida in 1990.
Gordon’s mother Sylvia recently told the Daily Mail: “I am very concerned. I love my son. He is a good boy so I don’t know what this is all about. I am worried for all of them. I am thinking, I wonder if someone kidnapped them?”
Timeline of sightings of Constance Marten and Mark Gordon?
Despite having been moving between Airbnbs around the country in recent months, Constance and Gordon were reported missing after their car broke down and caught fire near junction four at Farnworth, Bolton on 5 January. Police launched an investigation after discovering that Constance had given birth one or two days before, and had not been assessed by medical professionals.
Officers believe they then travelled to Liverpool and then onwards to Harwich, Essex via a taxi at about 3.30am on 6 January. Gordon, Constance and the baby were seen by a member of the public in Harwich on 7 January, and officers also received a number of confirmed sightings of the family in Colchester on 6 and 7 January.
The couple was then placed at East Ham Station, Newham, east London, between 10.30am and 12.30pm on 7 January. Detectives then established that they took a taxi from East Ham to Whitechapel Road at 6.14pm on 7 January. The pair are seen leaving the taxi with an orange carrier bag and a pram. They both have their heads and faces covered and Gordon is wearing white plastic bags on his shoes, which he removes a short time later.
After that, police said that Gordon went into Argos on Whitechapel Road, east London, at 6.19pm on to buy camping gear including a blue two-person tent. He was seen walking around the area with Constance for more than three hours, trying to flag down three black cabs who all refused to take them as passengers. They were last seen walking along Brick Lane, towards Bethnal Green Road, at 10.01pm that night.
At about 11.46pm on 7 January, they then went to Flower and Dean Walk near Brick Lane where they dumped a number of items, including the pushchair. They then got a taxi to Haringey. At 1.24am on 8 January, they then got in another taxi in Allison Road, Haringey, and travelled to Newhaven, East Sussex, where they were dropped off just outside the port at 4.56am. That is the last confirmed sighting.
Constance and Mark Gordon were found by officers from Sussex Police in Stanmer Villas, Brighton on Monday 27 February.
What has Constance Marten’s family said?
Constance is believed to have been estranged from the Martens since 2016, when she began seeing Gordon. The couple have lived an isolated life, cutting off contact with friends and family.
In an audio appeal, made through The Independent, Napier Marten said while he remains estranged from his “darling” daughter, his family is willing to “do whatever is necessary for your safe return to us”.
Napier 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.”
What have police said about Constance Marten?
In an update on 5 February, Det Supt Basford said: “Constance and Mark, your baby has spent the first month of its short life exposed to the elements when it should be safe and warm and, most importantly, seen by medics. After a month you must be running low on cash. Please pick up the phone and let us know, at the very least, that you are okay. We are ready to come to you and see that you and the baby get medical attention.”
He also insisted that members of the public should not feel concerned about coming forward with information and appealed to people to do “the right thing”.
He said on 21 February: “We know from their movements from the 5th to the 8th of January that they’ve been across the United Kingdom, and I think now, six weeks on, my plea to members of the public is they could be anywhere within the United Kingdom, in any town, in any city, so really it’s for everybody that’s watching this, the appeal, to just have a look, think, be visual, and any information or intelligence you may have to come forward and contact the police wherever you might be.”
What have the NHS said?
Shereen Nimmo, director of midwifery for Barts Health NHS Trust, said on 21 February: “Constance, my name is Shereen and I’m here to speak to you as a midwife and a mother. I am not here to judge you but here to help you and your baby. I know that you really love your baby, and I know what an exciting and worrying time being a mum can be. And I want to make sure that you and your baby are OK and get the care you need.
“After you have a baby, midwives are there to check you are recovering physically and emotionally and adjusting to caring for your newborn ... it’s not too late to have these checks done and to make sure your baby is healthy.
“You’re putting your baby at risk by not accessing medical care, so it’s really important that you come and see a midwife, doctor or another healthcare professional as soon as possible. Babies need a safe, warm environment and all new mums are given information about safe sleeping for their baby to prevent sudden infant death syndrome.
“We know the safest place for your baby to sleep is in a cot in the same room as you. Sleeping with your baby in an unsafe environment puts them at risk. We’re worried that without access to midwifery and medical care, your baby might not be getting the best start in life that we know you want for them. Please do the right thing for your baby and go to your nearest healthcare facility so my caring colleagues can take care of you and your baby. All we want to do is help you.”
Anyone who has information on the family’s whereabouts should call the incident room on 020 7175 0785. Alternatively, information can be reported 100 per cent anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. They never ask for personal details and they do not trace your device.