A missing aristocrat and her newborn baby might be sleeping in a tent amid sub zero temperatures, according to police. Officers say that Constance Marten, 35, and her 48-year-old convicted rapist boyfriend Mark Gordon were spotted buying camping gear in London’s East End on Saturday, January 7 - and that was the last official sighting of them.
Detectives are urgently appealing to the public to help them find the couple and their baby and have expressed concerns for their wellbeing. A team of officers working around the clock to trace them has established that they went into an Argos store in Whitechapel, east London, at 6.19pm on January 7 to buy a tent along with other camping equipment.
Gordon went in alone and paid cash for two large bags full of items including a blue two-man tent, two sleeping bags and two pillows. He left the store at 6.40pm that evening.
The couple and their baby then spent slightly more than three hours walking around the Whitechapel Road area, trying to flag down three black cabs, but they were refused. Police say they then left the area on foot and were last seen walking along Brick Lane, towards Bethnal Green Road, at 10.01pm that night.
Police say Gordon is often seen walking alone ahead of Constance and the baby. Met Police Detective Superintendent Lewis Basford, who is leading the investigation, said: “We are extremely concerned that a newborn baby - less than a week old at the time on January 7 – has been exposed to sub-freezing cold temperatures if Mark and Constance have been camping out somewhere as our evidence suggests.
“No child, especially a tiny, newborn baby, should be forced to endure such dangerous, potentially life-threatening, conditions. This is why it is absolutely vital that anyone with information about their whereabouts contacts us as a matter of urgency – whether it is with a recent or older sighting.
“Every piece of information is crucial to enabling us to find the baby and ensure it is okay. My officers will continue working tirelessly behind the scenes to piece together the family’s movements and current whereabouts.
“It could be that they are trying to blend in with homeless communities, either here in London or further afield, or they could be camping in more rural or wooded areas. They could be absolutely anywhere in the country.
“Please keep your eyes peeled, especially while you are out and about in waste ground or beauty spots, or while you’re walking the dog, and report any information, no matter how insignificant you think it is.”
Police were called to a car on fire on the hard-shoulder near Junction 4 of the M61 in Lancashire on the evening of Thursday January 5. But the occupants were not at the scene.
Enquiries revealed that Constance and Gordon were the occupants of the car and that Constance had very recently given birth, possibly one or two days before, and had not been assessed by medical professionals. It is believed most of their belongings were destroyed in the fire.
A missing persons investigation was launched by Greater Manchester Police, who established that the family left the vehicle and the motorway safely, walking to the Anchor Lane bridge which links the Highfield and Little Hulton areas. Police believe they then travelled to Liverpool and then onwards to Harwich via a taxi.
The couple and their baby were seen by a member of the public in Harwich, Essex, at about 9am on Saturday (January 7). Police also received a number of confirmed sightings of the family in Colchester on Friday, January 6 and the following day.
The investigation was handed over to Essex Police who reviewed hours of CCTV and were able to place the couple near East Ham Station in east London between 10:30am and 12.30pm on January 7. The Met Police took over the investigation and detectives have now established that the couple and their baby took a taxi from East Ham, being dropped off in Whitechapel Road at 6.14pm that evening.
The couple are seen leaving the taxi with an orange carrier bag and a pram. They both had their heads and faces covered and Gordon was wearing white plastic bags on his shoes.
Constance Marten’s grandmother, Mary Anna Marten, was goddaughter to the Queen Mother and a playmate of Princess Margaret. Constance and her younger brothers were brought up at Crichel House, one of the most magnificent mansions in England that served as the setting for the 1996 adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma.
Anyone with any information about the family’s whereabouts should call the Met Police incident room on 020 7175 0785.