EXCLUSIVE: Aristocrat mother on run with rapist partner and their newborn baby was ‘brainwashed’ by Nigerian cult before falling under the influence of lover who served 20 years in US jail for rape, her concerned friend reveals

  • Constance Marten, 35, is missing with newborn baby and partner Mark Gordon 
  • Her friend believes that Ms Marten had fallen under the influence of her partner
  • Offender partner of vanished aristocrat’s daughter and baby raped neighbour

An aristocrat mother who is on the run with her rapist partner and their newborn baby was left traumatised by a charismatic Nigerian evangelical church leader, a friend has revealed.

Constance Marten, 35, is understood to have spent around six months living in Nigeria and working for the controversial pastor T B Joshua, becoming one of his so-called ‘disciples’ at around the time she went to university.

A family friend said that Ms Marten, whose family used to own the £100m Crichel House estate set in 5,000 acres in Dorset, appeared ‘traumatised’ on her return to the UK.

The friend, who we are not naming at her request, said she believed that Ms Marten had now fallen under the influence of her partner Mark Gordon, 49, who served 20 years in a US jail for the rape and kidnap of a young woman during a knifepoint burglary in 1989.

Ms Constance Marten (pictured) was left traumatised by a charismatic Nigerian evangelical church leader, a friend has revealed

Ms Marten and her partner Mark Gordon have been missing since January 5 after their car broke down and caught fire on the M61. The pair were seen leaving the motorway on foot with their newborn 

She added that Ms Marten became almost fully estranged from her family after they found out about Gordon’s background as a sex offender and tried in vain to warn her away from him.

The prophecies and teachings of Joshua who died aged 57 in June 2021 have attracted tens of thousands of followers including sports stars and top politicians from Africa and Latin America.

The pastor who was described as ‘the prophet’ was known for his repeated claims that his prayers could help heal the sick through the ‘supernatural power of God bringing health to the human flesh’.

Constance Marten – pictured again at the 2013 party – has been missing for two weeks 

Constance Marten, pictured on the right, at Mist Mag party in 2013 with two other women

Ms Marten, nicknamed Toots by friends, is believed to have joined Joshua after attending an evangelical-style course, exploring Christian beliefs in London.

Her friend said: ‘She ended up becoming one of his disciples in Nigeria. I believe she got brainwashed while she was over there. The experience traumatised her.

‘She was not the same person when she came back. She always used to be wild, but also happy, kind and buoyant. She was darker when she came back and she found things more difficult

So why did aristocrat new mum vanish with her baby and lover?


‘She never told us what really happened. T B Joshua was a God-like figure. It was scary, and I believe it changed her. It was a huge part of her life.

‘Toots used to travel a lot from a young age but when she returned from Nigeria, there were strained relations with her family.

‘She was still exuberant in everything, but she found relationships very hard. It was like she came back totally f***ed. She was more rebellious. She thought she had recovered, but it was difficult for her.’

The friend, who has known her since childhood, said that Ms Marten planned on doing ‘a television expose’ of Joshua and his techniques after she joined international English news channel Al Jazeera as a senior researcher in 2012.

Ms Marten’s LinkedIn profile describing her work with Al Jazeera, also suggests this was the case: ‘Pitched an idea for a documentary about a religious cult in Nigeria.

‘Tracked down former members of the sect, in the UK, Nigeria, Ghana and S. Africa, in order to gather solid first-hand information.’

Ms Marten whose grandmother Mary Marten was a god-daughter of the late Queen Mother and attended Brownies at Buckingham Palace with Princess Margaret also hinted at the trauma she had experienced in Nigeria in a Facebook post in 2013.

She commented on a blog detailing the experiences of a woman called Beth who wrote about the ‘long-lasting psychological effect’ of spending 18 months as a ‘disciple’ of the church which she described as ‘the worst experiences of my life’.

Ms Marten praised the blog in her post, dated April 2, 2013, when she stated: ‘Beth, THANK YOU!, The outcome of being involved in a cult has huge effects on a person when they escape.

Police released this picture of Constance Marten and Mark Gordon outside East Ham station at around 11.45am on January 7

‘Your character is completely broken apart, and it is difficult to explain to others, thank you xxxxx.’

Ms Marten is believed to have kept her pregnancy with her baby a secret by moving between various Airbnb properties to escape the attention of the authorities.

But concern for her grew just a day after she gave birth when her and her Birmingham-born partner Gordon’s car burst into flames on the M61 near Bolton, Greater Manchester.

They travelled to Liverpool before heading for Harwich, Essex, and nearby Colchester and then East London as police put out desperate appeals for them to come forward to ensure their baby could receive appropriate checks.

Ms Marten’s father Napier Marten, a former page to the late Queen whose grandfather was the 3rd Baron Alington, revealed yesterday that he and his family were ‘deeply concerned’ for the welfare of his ‘darling’ daughter and her baby.

The film producer said it was ‘beyond painful’ to see her ‘so vulnerable’ and suggested she and her baby needed to be protected by the authorities.

Mr Marten spoke out as Scotland Yard said it was following a number of ‘good leads’ after a flood of calls from the public about possible sightings of the couple.

The friend said she did not know how Ms Marten had met Gordon, but she claimed that her family had become concerned about her being with him.

She said: ‘The family met him very early on when they started going out, and they came to ask for money.

Constance’s ancestors: George Marten with wife Mary and daughters Victoria, Charlotte and Georgina 

‘They looked into his past and found out that he had been in jail in the US. They were worried because of his record and made her aware of it. Her answer was to button down the hatches and stay with him.

‘She is a very loyal person, but also very stubborn. That is when she just dropped off the face of the earth in around 2015 or 2016.

Aristocrat daughter of Queen’s page missing with lover and newborn was Tatler ‘It’ girl and ‘talented actress’

‘She was in touch with her family for a while, but none of her friends knew where she had gone. Then she had no contact with anyone. She even changed the mobile number which she had for years

I know, he could be the love of her life and he might not be as bad as everyone is making out, but he could also be having this hold over her.

‘It has been reported that she is living off some massive trust fund, but I don’t think that is the case. It has come out that they have been living in some awful places in London and have been evicted for not paying rent. That would not happen if she had access to a trust fund.’

The friend added: ‘Growing up, she was strong minded and clever. I just hope that she gets the help she needs.’

Ms Marten’s father said in his appeal: ‘Darling Constance, even though we remain estranged, I stand by, as I have always done and as the family has always done, to do whatever is necessary for your safe return to us.

‘I beseech you to find a way to turn yourself and your wee one in to the police as soon as possible so you and he or she can be protected. Only then can a process of healing and recovery begin.

‘I also wish you to understand you are much, much loved, whatever the circumstances. We are deeply concerned for your and your baby’s welfare. To see you so vulnerable again is testing in the extreme.’

In an audio appeal, made through The Independent, he said the family had lived in ‘great concern’, knowing of Gordon’s past, ‘for some time’.

Police have said that Ms Marten’s life changed on meeting Gordon. ‘At that point the affluent, normal, social aspects of Constance’s life, they stop,’ said Detective Chief Inspector Stephen Payne. ‘They’re estranged from family.’

Constance Marten – whose nickname was Toots – comes from an aristocratic family

Gordon was aged 14, when he raped a young neighbour at knifepoint after breaking into her home in Florida and holding her captive for four hours with a pair of garden shears as her two children slept in the next room in 1989.

While on the run, he broke into a man’s house and battered him around the head with a shovel, according to US court papers.

He served 20 years behind bars before being deported to Britain in 2010.

The Metropolitan Police appealed to anyone who has information about the couple’s whereabouts to call 020 7175 0785. Information can also be reported anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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