Josh Payne and Margaret Davis, PA
Wed, 1 March 2023 at 4:46 pm GMT
Search teams are using “every resource” at their disposal in the desperate hunt for the two-month-old baby of Constance Marten and Mark Gordon, the detective leading the investigation has said.
Hundreds of police officers and search and rescue experts are scouring 90 square miles of the Sussex countryside in a bid to find the baby, who has not had any medical attention since being born in a car in Bolton on January 5.
Metropolitan and Sussex police are using helicopters, sniffer dogs, thermal imaging cameras and drones, and teams will continue to work in the coming days, including overnight, Detective Superintendent Lewis Basford told reporters on Wednesday.
Marten, 35, who comes from an aristocratic family with royal connections, first went missing with boyfriend Mr Gordon, 48, when their car was found abandoned and on fire at the edge of the M61 on January 5.
From there they travelled around the country by taxi, avoiding police by paying for everything in cash, covering their faces while on CCTV and moving locations frequently, often after dark.
They were finally arrested in Brighton on Monday, minutes after a member of the public tipped off police, but their baby was not with them.
The Sun reported that they used Brighton food bank last Wednesday, but did not ask for baby supplies – which were available – and did not have the baby with them.
They also did not buy any baby supplies from a convenience store shortly before they were arrested.
CCTV footage from just before they were caught appears to show Gordon, who served 20 years in a US jail for rape and battery, limping and using a large stick to walk.
Investigators have applied for an extra 36 hours to question the pair, who are being held on suspicion of child neglect and gross negligence manslaughter.
On Tuesday Mr Basford said that they had given police no information about where their child may be.
Specialist search teams could be seen scouring parkland around a mile from where the couple were arrested on Wednesday.
Metropolitan Police officers and staff from London Search and Rescue were combing through Wild Park Local Nature Reserve, which backs onto Hollingbury Golf Course.
The officers, some wearing jackets indicating they were dog handlers, searched underneath sticks and logs close to where the two sites meet.
A uniformed officer was seen standing guard at the entrance to the park, with dog walkers saying they saw police tape cordoning off parts of the woodland.
By midday members of the team had been on shift for 14 hours, and had walked 13km.
A heavy police presence remained in the area on Wednesday near where the couple were arrested, and a red search-dog van was seen making its way into the adjoining Golf Drive, which leads to the allotments that have also been searched.
Allotment users were told that officers had forced entry to every shed on the site, and would remain there for some time.
He said officers had received no information about the welfare or location of the child since the pair were detained.
During the search for the family both Marten’s parents, from whom she was estranged, made public appeals for her to hand herself in.
On Tuesday her father, Napier Marten, expressed his immense relief that she had been found, but said he remained alarmed that the baby was missing.
Anyone with sightings or information is asked to call the police incident room on 020 8345 3865 or 999.