Body found in search for Constance Marten’s missing newborn baby
A body has been found in the search for runaway aristocrat Constance Marten’s missing newborn baby.
A post-mortem examination will be carried out in due course, detectives say.
The 35-year-old and her partner Mark Gordon, 48, were arrested in Brighton on Monday night, following a more than seven-week search sparked by the discovery of their burnt-out car on the M61 near Bolton.
The couple were detained by Sussex Police after being spotted by a member of the public, prompting an intensive search for their baby, which was not with the couple.
The pair were arrested on suspicion of child neglect and gross negligence manslaughter, and on Wednesday investigators applied to magistrates for an extra 36 hours to question them.
More than 200 police officers from the Metropolitan Police and Sussex Police were involved in the search for the child, aided by a police helicopter, sniffer dogs, thermal imaging cameras and drones.
Police have now announced that a body has been found, although its identity has yet to be confirmed.
Ch Supt James Collis of Sussex Police said his condolences went out to Ms Marten’s wider family.
In their search for the couple, detectives had long stressed their concern for the welfare of the child, which is not thought to have been assessed by medical professionals since his or her birth in early January.
A heavy police presence remained in the area on Wednesday near where the couple were arrested, and police and staff from London Search and Rescue combed through Wild Park Local Nature Reserve, which backs onto Hollingbury Golf Course.
Users of nearby allotments were told that officers had forced entry to every shed on the site, and would remain there for some time.
Earlier in the investigation, it emerged that detectives believed Ms Marten may have given birth in the back seat of the car, which was left abandoned on the hard shoulder near Bolton.
The couple are thought to have then travelled hundreds of miles in taxis while using cash to live off-grid. They had been last spotted in the Sussex port of Newhaven on 8 January, walking towards open fields.
Gordon is believed to have bought camping gear the previous evening at an Argos in Whitechapel Road in London, with police reiterating on Tuesday that their working hypothesis remained that the couple had been living outdoors.
Senior investigating officer Detective Superintendent Lewis Basford appealed on Tuesday for members of the public living between Brighton and Newhaven “to report any potential sightings, or information about where they [the family] may have been sleeping”.
DS Basford said police held out hope of finding the baby but warned they had to consider the possibility that the child had “come to harm”.
“We have had a significant period of time in custody facility with both Constance and Mark,” he said.
“At this time we have not furthered that information, which has now obviously led to the position where we feel that the risk is getting so great that we now have to consider the possibility that the baby has come to harm.”
Officers were initially working outwards from the location of their arrest in Stanmer Villas, on the outskirts of Brighton.