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'No justice' for Grantham mum-of-two Daniela after manslaughter charge dropped against partner

A close friend of mum-of-two Daniela Espirito Santo, who died in her Grantham flat last year, says there is no justice for the young mother and her children after a manslaughter charge against her partner was dropped.

Charly Price-Wallis told the Journal that she was heartbroken after the charge against Julio Jesus was withdrawn at Lincoln Crown Court on Tuesday. Instead, Jesus, 31, of Beechcroft Road, Grantham, admitted a charge of assault occasioning bodily harm arising from an incident on the morning of April 8, 2020. He also admitted assault occasioning actual bodily harm as a result of a previous incident on March 28, 2020.

He was jailed for 10 months, which is expected to lead to his release from custody, where he has been held on remand since April last year.

Daniela Espirito Santo and her children Laura and Mateus. (33593983)
Daniela Espirito Santo and her children Laura and Mateus. (33593983)

Charly told the Journal the system had “failed” Daniela.

She added: “I’m not sure that I understand what justice is anymore because the sentence Julio received certainly wasn’t any sort of justice for Daniela or her poor children.

“I am deeply disappointed, heartbroken and frustrated with how the system has failed Daniela, not once but numerous times.”

She added: “I spoke to Daniela hours before her death. She was distraught, full of fear and was begging for help.”

Lincoln Crown Court was told that Jesus attacked Daniela, 23, during an argument at the small flat they shared in Chestnut Grove, Grantham.

Jesus climbed on top of her and put his forearm across her throat, making it difficult for her to breathe. After a few seconds he released her and she told him to leave the flat, but as he did so he pushed the front door against her, trapping her.

Jesus then left but was arrested nearby after Daniela contacted police.

She used her mobile phone to photograph her injuries, which included reddening around her neck and upper arm, together with a small indentation on her wrist

Gareth Weetman, prosecuting, said: “She told the police he had started to physically abuse her during verbal altercations and the last couple of occasions involved him throwing her on to the bed, climbing on top of her and putting his arm around her neck.”

She went on to describe a similar incident on March 28 when she said she had feared for her life.

Daniela, who was shielding because of health problems, was found dead later the same day.

Following a police investigation Jesus was charged with manslaughter but on Tuesday the prosecution offered no evidence on that charge.

Mr Weetman said: “For several months both the prosecution and the defence were investigating the cardiology evidence from two experts as to the circumstances in which Ms Santo died a short time after she had contacted the police in this case. Because of that agreed evidence the Crown could not prove that any unlawful act by Mr Jesus caused the death of Ms Santo.”

Judge John Pini QC, passing sentence, said: “This has been a very difficult case from a legal perspective. It is also, on any view, a desperately, desperately sad case in which Miss Santo ultimately lost her life. That means two children have been left without a mother.

“The case has been considered with the utmost care by the prosecution and the defence. The fact is that there are insurmountable legal reasons why a prosecution for manslaughter could not be pursued.

“From a number of reports, it became clear that it is unlikely that there is a direct contribution of the physical injury caused to Ms Santo on 8 April played any part in her death.”

Allison Summers QC, for Jesus, told the court that he had no previous convictions.

“The assaults were committed at a time when both he and Ms Santos were clearly under enormous strain.

“Ms Santos’ medical problems meant that she was required to completely shield in a small flat with two very young children. Mr Jesus had lost his job and money was tight. When he lost his job, money became a particular source of tension.

“Whilst none of those factors provide any justification or excuse for what he did they set the scene for the obvious flashpoints which on these two occasions turned into violence.

“This is clearly a case of spontaneous rather than premeditated violence.”

Following the court hearing, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) explained why it withdrew the manslaughter charge.

A CPS spokesperson said: “Following a review of expert medical reports, we concluded there was insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of a manslaughter conviction.

“As a result, this charge was withdrawn. Julio Jesus pleaded guilty to two counts of ABH and was sentenced to 10 months in custody.

“Our thoughts and sympathies are with Ms Santo’s loved ones at this difficult time.

“Violence of this kind is unacceptable and we want every victim to come forward with confidence that when our legal test is met, we will always prosecute.”

Detective inspector Andy McWatt, senior investigating officer for the East Midlands Special Operations Unit, said: “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Daniela as they continue to live their lives without her.

“Daniela’s death will now be subject to an inquest and we will pass our file on to the coroner.”

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