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Mark Gordon in court on Thursday
By Simon Jones & Oliver Slow
BBC News

The trial of a mother and father accused of killing their baby has heard that she was “well cared for” by her parents.

Constance Marten, 36, and Mark Gordon, 49, are on trial for the manslaughter of newborn Victoria, whose body was discovered in March 2023 after a weeks-long search for the family.

Baby Victoria’s body was found in a shed in Brighton last March.

The Old Bailey has heard she was found in a Lidl “bag for life”.

In an opening address to the jury, John Femi-Ola KC, who is defending Mr Gordon, said: “The baby was kept warm and dry, and was fed such as she was well-nourished. The baby did not require medical assistance.”

He said there was no evidence of any sign of violence, and no sign of external or internal injuries.

Mr Femi-Ola said there was no intention by the couple to pervert the course of justice by deliberately allowing Victoria’s body to decompose, because Ms Marten wanted a post-mortem examination to know “how her beloved baby died”.

As well as manslaughter, the couple are also accused of four other offences – cruelty to their baby; concealment of the baby’s birth; causing or allowing her death; and perverting the course of justice by concealing the body.

They deny the charges.

The prosecution maintains baby Victoria would still be alive were it not for the “reckless, utterly selfish, callous, cruel, arrogant and ultimately grossly negligent conduct” of her parents.

Outlining the case against the defendants on Thursday, prosecutor Tom Little KC told jurors the couple previously had four other children, all of whom had been taken into care after extensive involvement from social services.

It argues the couple concealed the birth of their fifth child as they knew she would be taken into care.

The court has heard the couple went “off grid”, living in a tent on the South Downs – depriving the baby of what it needed, namely warmth, food and safety.

Mr Little described the conditions the defendants were living when sleeping rough “rapidly worsened and quickly reached a stage that were inhuman”.

He said the couple “prioritised their own relationship and desires over the safety and wellbeing of their baby”.

But Mr Femi-Ola for the defence said: “The Crown say they went off the grid. As you listen to the evidence, you may ask yourself: were they driven off the grid?”

The trial continues.

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