An aristocrat and her boyfriend "prioritised their own relationship and their own desires" to keep their baby over the child's wellbeing, a court heard.

Wealthy Constance Marten and Mark Gordon are accused of exposing their newborn daughter to freezing temperatures on the South Downs because of fears she would be taken into care by social services.

The pair are on trial at the Old Bailey, which has heard the baby was their fifth child. All four others have been taken into care.

Tom Little KC, prosecuting at the Old Bailey, said the couple acted "to prevent the child [baby Victoria] being taken into care that she so dearly needed".

"The neglect was the ongoing failure to provide warmth and shelter from the cold, a failure to feed the baby and failure to provide her with any medical assistance when she became cold.

"It was the exposure to the cold, wind and the rain.

"What took place on the South Downs was done in the teeth of those warnings by social workers and the court and at a time when the defendants knew perfectly well that other children had been removed from their care.

"In short, they prioritised their own relationship and their own desires over the safety and wellbeing of their own baby."

Follow live updates from the second day of the trial here. 

The jury has heard the newborn appeared to have spent much of her short life in a Lidl “bag for life”. Her body was found dumped in a disused shed in Brighton on March 1 last year.

The jury was told that Marten and Gordon had camped in and around the South Downs in freezing temperatures after purchasing a tent, sleeping bags and pillows. 

The couple and their baby daughter ended up in Sussex after criss-crossing the country via taxi from Northumberland, visiting Liverpool, Bolton and Manchester.

Mr Little said the baby's body was found in the Lidl bag “covered in rubbish, as if she was refuse”.

However, John Femi-Ola KC, defending Mark Gordon, told the jury the couple had tried to preserve the body for an autopsy.

He said: "There was an attempt to preserve the body for all the reasons that Constance Marten gave in her interview.

"She wanted to find out why her beloved baby died."

He said the baby was warm, dry and “well nourished” and that she “died in the circumstances so heartbreakingly described by her mother in her interview with the police”.

The court heard transcripts from police interviews yesterday in which Marten described falling asleep holding the baby then waking up and finding her daughter had died.

The couple were arrested in Golf Drive, Brighton on February 28, 2023. 

Marten, 36, and Gordon, 49, are accused of gross negligence manslaughter, causing the death of a child, child cruelty, concealing the birth of a child and perverting the course of justice.

They deny all the charges.The Argus: Constance Marten's brother Tobias Marten and her mother Virginie de Selliers arrive at the Old Bailey.Constance Marten's brother Tobias Marten and her mother Virginie de Selliers arrive at the Old Bailey. (Image: PA)

The court has heard Marten comes from a wealthy aristocratic family. Her mother and brother sat in the public gallery listening and taking notes. Marten did not attend the hearing.

Mark Gordon sat in the dock in a blue shirt and dark blue tie listening to proceedings. 

The trial, presided over by Judge Mark Lucraft KC, recorder for London at the Old Bailey, continues.