The runaway heiress, her raping partner and the aristocratic family breakup


They left their burning car on the hard shoulder of the M61 and fled – an aristocrat, a sex offender and their baby, born just a day or two before. From the inferno at Bolton, believed to have destroyed all their possessions, they traveled over the course of two days first to Liverpool, then to Harwich in Essex, to Colchester and then to East Ham Station in East London.

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Those blurry CCTV footage from Jan. 7 is the latest confirmed sighting of 35-year-old Constance Marten, the heiress’s face wrapped in a red scarf, her baby swaddled in her coat. Next to her is 48-year-old convicted rapist Mark Gordon, his head covered and tilted away from the camera. The police, concerned for the baby’s health, are looking for the couple, but they are said to be carrying a large amount of cash, which kept them off the grid.

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Police have found evidence that the baby was born in the back seat of the car.

So how did Marten, whose father was a page to Elizabeth II, come from gracing the pages of the society bible Tatler being on the run with a man who, after breaking into a teen and raping a woman, was imprisoned in Florida for 20 years before being deported to Britain?

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The last confirmed sighting of Constance Marten and Mark Gordon

(with police)

Marten’s father, Napier, points to an estrangement that began when his daughter met Gordon, tearing her away from family and friends to start an itinerant life. Make a heartfelt plea to Constance TBENsaid Napier – his voice trembling with emotion – to his daughter, “Dear Constance, even though we remain estranged at this time, I stand ready, as I have always done and as the family has always done, to do whatever it takes to your safe return to us.

“The past eight years have been extremely painful for the whole family and for your friends, as well as for you. And to see you so vulnerable again is extreme testing.

“Please Constance, find the courage to report to the police as soon as possible.”

Marten was born in 1987 as the son of Napier and Virginie De Selliers. Napier’s mother, Mary Anna Marten – Constance’s grandmother – was a goddaughter to the Queen Mother and a playmate to Princess Margaret.

The family had a house that matched their aristocratic pedigree. Constance and her younger brothers – Maximilian, now 34, and Tobias, 31 – grew up in Crichel House, which sits in the heart of 5,000 acres of Dorset parkland. One of the finest Georgian mansions in England, the house was the setting of the 1996 adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma, starring Ewan McGregor and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Watch: father’s emotional plea to missing daughter

She attended St Mary’s Shaftesbury, an independent Roman Catholic girls’ school whose alumna included writer Sophie Kinsella; Laura Lopes, an art curator who is the daughter of the Queen Consort and Andrew Parker Bowles; and Martha Fiennes, a film director, writer and producer whose brother is the actor Ralph Fiennes. By the time the school closed in 2020, the school was charging boarders over £30,000 a year due to financial difficulties due to the pandemic.

When she was nine, Constance’s father had what was described as an “awakening.” He later related how a voice in his head told him to throw away the £115 million family fortune, shave his head and fly to Australia. Napier followed his bidding and, having duly shaved his head, had an out-of-body experience while standing on a cliff with a group of Aboriginal Australians. “Everything in my life was a completely empty shell materially,” he said. He lived in a truck and trained in head massage. Although he returned to the UK, where he later worked as a tree surgeon, Napier passed Crichel on to Max. In 2013, Max sold the house and 400 acres of surrounding land to Richard Chilton, an American hedge fund billionaire, for a reported £34 million; it was initially offered for £98 million. The king was thought to be interested in buying the house as an estate for the then Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Crichel House is set in 2,000 acres of parkland in Dorset


Constance’s years growing up in Crichel, she later recalled, were full of “naked picnics, siestas amidst [hay bales], and firsts for tractors”. Toots, as she is known to friends and family, studied Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Leeds from 2008. Tatler“Babe of the Month,” in which she describes cider as “one of my five-a-day,” and outlines a plan to get a turtle tattooed on her foot. She attended glittering parties, often at estates like the one she grew up on, and vacationed at posh ski resorts like Verbier.

She also ventured off the beaten track. During the year abroad that required her university education, she was in Tahrir Square in central Cairo during the 2011 Arab Spring. Marten graduated in 2012 with a 2.1.

Just beautiful, full of life, full of kindness… and she was very, very talented

She then became a researcher at the London office of Al-Jazeera, the English-language news channel in Qatar. According to Marten’s LinkedIn profile, this job lasted eleven months. Marten then worked briefly as a project manager at Rich Mix Theater in East London and as a freelance photographer. Marten showed talent; her LinkedIn page states that she has won three photography awards, including one for a photo she took in Tahrir Square during the revolution. In 2014 she obtained her professional qualification as a journalist and did a one-day internship at the Daily mail.

Apparently supported by a trust fund, Marten then enrolled in an acting course at East 15 drama school in Essex. A classmate told me The Sunday times that Marten was “simply beautiful, full of life, full of kindness … and she was very, very talented”.

Marten stopped her drama training in 2016


But Marten dropped out of training in 2016, they said. She had changed and was in an erratic relationship with a man the coursemate had never met.

Who was the man? It appears to have been Mark Gordon. Gordon, who was thirteen years her senior, was born in Birmingham and moved to Florida with his mother and half-siblings when he was young. In 1990, when he was 15, Gordon was found guilty of kidnapping and sexual battery, and spent 20 years in prison. He was registered as deported in 2010.

US court records detail how Gordon allegedly broke in through the woman’s bathroom window, before finding a pair of stockings of hers that he used as a makeshift mask to cover his face.

After meeting his victim, the documents state: “The suspect ordered the victim to go back to the bedroom and, while still armed, demanded that the victim undress.”

He then allegedly sexually assaulted and raped the victim.

The pair have traveled over 200 miles across England


The file allegedly described Gordon’s actions after entering the house: “The suspect put a nylon stocking over his face to conceal his identity, as he lived next door and was known to her.

“The suspect was armed with a kitchen knife and hedge trimmers and after the victim came out of her bedroom to investigate the barking dogs, she encountered the suspect lurking just outside her bedroom door.

“The victim was held against her will by the armed intruder for a period of approximately four and a half hours.

‘After Miranda [being given the right to remain silent]the defendant confessed to the crime and gave an affidavit, taped statement outlining the sequence of events.

“It should be noted that during the commission of the crime, the victim’s two small children were asleep in their bedroom.”

It’s unclear how he and Marten met, but they reportedly moved into a small terraced house in Ilford, East London. The couple was “mysterious,” a neighbor said The Sunday times. Marten was apparently estranged from her family at the time and she does not appear in the Fashion photo shoot on the occasion of her brother Max’s wedding in 2021 to jewelery designer Ruth Aymer.

Marten’s publicly accessible social media output dried up from 2016. Vacation photos were replaced by silence and the occasional plaintive congratulations from friends and associates wondering where “Toots” had gone.

Mark Gordon spent 20 years in a US prison

(Metropolitan Police)

Gordon and Marten have reportedly been evicted from their home in Ilford. Where they went next is unclear, although they lived on the Coldharbour Estate in Greenwich in August 2020. Neighbors told Evening Standard that sometimes there was shouting from the flat and that Marten and Gordon spent long periods elsewhere. The lease was in Marten’s name, but the couple paid no rent. They were evicted from their home in August last year and are said to have left behind smoke damage and a partially collapsed ceiling, with thousands of pounds worth of repairs.

Where they went next is still unclear. Gordon’s mother Sylvia, who lives in Florida, told the Daily mail she believed the couple had secretly married “some time ago”.

More than 200 agents are now looking for the couple, but they operate covertly, hide from cameras, pay cash and presumably book hotels under pseudonyms. It is thought that their journey to Harwich harbor was in the hope of catching a ferry to the continent. Detective Superintendent Lewis Basford, who is leading the investigation, said: “There is nothing to indicate that any of them have done any harm – we just need to make sure they are okay, especially the baby, and that they don’t need any treatment. medical attention for any underlying issues.”

The car fire on the M61 near Bolton

(with police)

De Selliers, now a psychotherapist and divorced from Napier, has not spoken publicly about their daughter’s disappearance. Napier, now a film and music producer, said the family had known about Gordon’s past for some time, which caused them great concern. Now he hopes that his runaway daughter will return and that the rift that this stately heiress has torn from her family can be mended. In his appeal, he told Constance: “I beg you to find a way to report yourself and your little one to the police as soon as possible so that you and he or she can be protected. Only then can a process of healing and recovery begin, however long it takes, however difficult it is.”

Anyone who has information about the whereabouts of the family can call the control room on 020 7175 0785.

Alternatively, information can be passed on 100 percent anonymously to TBEN charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. They never ask for any personal details or track your device.


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