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Aristocrat mother on the run with rapist and their newborn baby, her friend reveals

An aristocratic mother on the run with her rapist and their newborn baby has been left traumatized by a charismatic Nigerian evangelical church leader, a friend has revealed.

Constance Marten, 35, reportedly lived and worked in Nigeria for about six months for the controversial Reverend TB Joshua, becoming one of his so-called “disciples” around the time she entered university.

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

The friend, whom we are not naming at her request, said she believed Ms Marten had now come under the influence of her partner Mark Gordon, 49, who served 20 years in a US prison for the rape and kidnapping of a young woman during a burglary with a knife in 1989.

Ms Constance Marten (pictured) was left traumatized 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 highway on foot with their newborn baby

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 highway on foot with their newborn baby

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 highway on foot with their newborn baby

She added that Ms Marten became almost completely estranged from her family after they learned about Gordon’s background as a sex offender and unsuccessfully tried to keep her away from him.

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

The preacher 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 human flesh.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mrs Marten, nicknamed Toots by friends, is said to have joined Joshua after taking an evangelical style course, exploring the Christian faith in London.

Her friend said, “She eventually became one of his disciples in Nigeria. I believe she was brainwashed while she was there. The experience traumatized her.

“She wasn’t the same person when she came back. She was always wild, but also cheerful, kind and cheerful. She was darker when she came back and she found it harder

“She never told us what really happened. TB Joshua was a divine figure. It was scary and I believe it changed her. It was a big part of her life.

Toots traveled extensively from a young age, but when she returned from Nigeria, relations with her family were strained.

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

The friend, who has known her since she was a child, said Ms Marten planned to make “a television exhibition” of Joshua and his techniques after joining international English news channel Al Jazeera in 2012 as a senior researcher.

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

‘Tracked down ex-members of the cult, in the UK, Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa, to collect solid first-hand information.’

Ms Marten, whose grandmother Mary Marten was a goddaughter of the late Queen Mother and attended Brownies at Buckingham Palace with Princess Margaret, also alluded to the trauma she suffered in Nigeria in a 2013 Facebook post.

She commented on a blog about the experiences of a woman named 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 April 2, 2013 post, stating, “Beth, THANK YOU! The result of involvement in a cult has huge consequences for a person when they escape.

Police released this photo of Constance Marten and Mark Gordon outside East Ham station at around 11:45am on 7 January

Police released this photo of Constance Marten and Mark Gordon outside East Ham station at around 11:45am on 7 January

Police released this photo of Constance Marten and Mark Gordon outside East Ham station at around 11:45am on 7 January

“Your character is completely broken, and it’s hard to explain to others, thank you xxxxx.”

Ms Marten allegedly kept her pregnancy with her baby a secret by moving between several Airbnb properties to escape the authorities’ attention.

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

They traveled to Liverpool before moving on to Harwich, Essex and nearby Colchester and then East London as police made desperate calls to come forward to ensure their baby could get the proper 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 well-being of his “dear” daughter and her baby.

The film’s producer said it was “extremely painful” to see her “so vulnerable” and suggested that she and her baby should be protected by authorities.

Mr Marten spoke out when Scotland Yard said it was following some ‘good leads’ after a deluge of calls from the public about possible sightings of the pair.

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

She said, “The family met him very early on when they started going out, and they came asking for money.

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

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

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

“They investigated his past and found that he had been in prison in the US. They were concerned because of his criminal record and informed her about it. Her answer was to button up the shutters and stay with him.

“She is very loyal, but also very stubborn. That’s when she just fell off the face of the earth around 2015 or 2016.

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

I know, he could be the love of her life and he might not be as bad as everyone makes out, but he could also have this hold on her.

“It has been reported that she lives off a huge trust fund, but I don’t think that is the case. It is revealed that they have lived in some horrible places in London and have been evicted for not paying rent. That wouldn’t happen if she had access to a trust fund.”

The friend added, “Growing up, she was strong minded and smart. I just hope she gets the help she needs.’

Mrs. Marten’s father said in his appeal, “Dear Constance, even though we remain estranged, I stand ready, as I always have and as the family has always done, to do whatever it takes for your safe return to us.”

“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.

“I also want you to understand that you are very, very loved no matter what the circumstances. We are very concerned about the well-being of you and your baby. To see you so vulnerable again is an extreme ordeal.’

In an audio appeal made via The Independent, he said the family had been living in ‘great concern’ for some time, knowing about Gordon’s past.

Police have said Ms Marten’s life changed when she met Gordon. “That’s when the affluent, normal, social aspects of Constance’s life stop,” Detective Superintendent Stephen Payne said. “They are estranged from family.”

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

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

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

Gordon was 14 years old when he knife-raped a young neighbor after breaking into her Florida home and holding her captive with garden shears for four hours while her two children slept in the next room in 1989.

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

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

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

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