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By George Wright
BBC News

Constance Marten has been described in court as a “lioness” who loved her “cubs”.

Ms Marten, 36, and her partner Mark Gordon, 49, are on trial over the death of their daughter Victoria.

Their baby’s body was found in a bag in a shed in Brighton last March. The couple deny manslaughter by gross negligence and other charges.

A barrister for Mr Gordon disputed how the prosecution had painted the defendants as “callous and cruel”.

In his closing speech at the Old Bailey, John Femi-Ola KC told jurors: “That woman you saw in the witness box over a number of days, ask yourself in all honesty, is callous the first image that comes into your mind?”

Mr Femi-Ola said that while giving evidence she had been “posh but polite, calm and intelligent”.

“You may think she was resolute. You may think her deep, deep love for her children overflowed,” he said.

“She is not a person to be pushed around by any man, partner or barrister. She has a strong mind of her own.

“You may think that she is a lioness, talking about her children like her cubs. She loved them.”

Jurors have heard how the couple went on the run from authorities last year in a bid to keep their baby.

They abandoned their car after it burst into flames near Bolton, Greater Manchester, on 5 January 2023 and were finally arrested in Brighton on 27 February, days before Victoria’s body was found in a disused allotment shed.

Mr Femi-Ola told the court that the couple “fled in haste, they fled in fear and they fled in terror”. He pointed to the fact 34 “burner” phones were recovered from inside the burned out car.

“Why? Because Constance Marten told you they were going to take the baby away from her. They wanted to protect the baby, be with the baby,” he said.

He told the court about how the “unlikely couple” had met in a shop in Tottenham, north London, before travelling together in Latin America.

The defence barrister said Ms Marten’s family “did not approve” and were even “embarrassed” that she had children with Mr Gordon.

He pointed to evidence that her family had paid for private detectives to monitor the couple between 2016 and 2021.

Earlier in the day, prosecutor Tom Little KC accused Ms Marten of being a “serial” liar.

Referring to the decision to take Ms Marten and Mr Gordon’s older children into care, he said: “Baby Victoria did not die as a result of an accident.

“Those four children were lawfully taken into care and what happened on the South Downs proved that judge right.”

The defendants, of no fixed address, deny manslaughter by gross negligence, perverting the course of justice, concealing the birth of a child, child cruelty and causing or allowing the death of a child.

The trial continues.