April 12, 2022 2.30 pm

Pre-inquest review for mum who died after several calls to police over abuser boyfriend

Another review will be needed before the final hearing

A second pre-inquest review was held by a coroner this month into a Lincolnshire domestic abuse victim, who died after waiting eight minutes on hold to police desperately trying to report her boyfriend.

A confidential report from the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) was leaked by the New York Times. The investigation was concluded by IOPC in January 2021, but before then the leaked report exposed multiple failings of Lincolnshire Police in relation to the tragic death of 23-year-old Daniela Espirito Santo, who died on April 9, 2020 in Grantham.

A second pre-inquest review was held by coroner Paul Smith at the Myle Cross Centre on April 5, 2022. The victim’s full name was listed on the inquest as Daniela Arminda Espirito Santo Figueiredo De Sousa.

The recent management hearing included discussions between barristers and the coroner about the legal side of the case.

There will be a third pre-inquest review scheduled on a date yet to be confirmed, before a final hearing is set which is likely to be next year.

Daniela had tried to call for help for over a year as her relationship with her partner Julio Jesus turned violent. When Daniela found the courage to press charges, Jesus was arrested and released on bail and returned to her flat and it wasn’t long before she was back on the phone to police reporting that he had assaulted her.

Julio Jesus was jailed for 10 months over two counts of assault, but is already out of prison.

The New York Times reported that she died hours after being assaulted by Jesus, who was cleared of manslaughter and jailed for 10 months for two counts of assault, and by last summer he was already out of prison. It was the seventh time in a year she had reported him to police for violence and death threats.

In 2015, Daniela had been diagnosed with a cardiac condition involving an inflammation of the heart. According to New York Times, a post-mortem examination concluded the assaults might have triggered her heart failure.

Daniela’ best friend Charly Price-Wallace previously called for more justice saying “you can’t grieve when there’s still doors that aren’t closed”.

However, the IOPC will not release the findings of their investigation publicly until the conclusion of future inquest proceedings.

The report leaked by the New York Times reveals:

  • Daniela reported her boyfriend to the police on seven occasions, including for death threats and for trying to strangle her
  • Ms Espirito Santo was pregnant with her second child when she first reported Mr Jesus to police on May 19, 2019. She told officers he had threatened to kill her, that he was violent and controlling and “excessively jealous”, but she did not want to press charges
  • Two of the calls came in the hours before her death, including in the morning after Mr Jesus had pinned her on the bed and pressed his forearm against her throat
  • Mr Jesus was taken into police custody before being released soon after. He returned to Ms Espirito Santo’s apartment and it wasn’t long before she was back on the phone to police reporting that he had assaulted her. However, the dispatcher told her the situation ‘wasn’t urgent’, because her boyfriend had left
  • The dispatcher redirected her to a non-emergency hotline and he hung up after 94 seconds. Sadly, she died just over an hour later from heart failure and police found her slumped on her sofa, not breathing and with her distraught baby cradled in one arm
  • She had spoken to the non-emergency call taker and was on hold for eight minutes. When the dispatcher picked up, the only sounds were the cries of a seven-month-old baby

The IOPC previously cleared Lincolnshire Police of any breaches despite multiple failings highlighted in an internal report.

Detective Superintendent Suzanne Davies, head of Professional Standards at Lincolnshire Police, said last year that the force would welcome the opportunity to talk through the findings of the IOPC report, but could not comment yet as it has not been published and an inquest is pending.