Police stay silent as best friend struggles to grieve Grantham mum’s tragic death

The best friend of a Lincolnshire domestic abuse victim, who died after waiting eight minutes on hold to police desperately trying to report her boyfriend, has called for more justice saying “you can’t grieve when there’s still doors that aren’t closed”.

A confidential report from the Independent Office for Police Conduct that wasn’t meant to be published yet was leaked by the New York Times, and exposed multiple failings of Lincolnshire Police in relation to the tragic death of Daniela Espirito Santo, who died on April 9 last year in Grantham. She had tried to call for help for over a year as her relationship with her partner Julio Jesus turned violent.

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

Charly Price-Wallace, Daniela’s best friend, told BBC Look North: “I went over and she had a black eye, the kid’s cot had been smashed from where he’d chucked her into it. She was a mess, she had cuts all up her arms, bruises and at that point I knew it was bad.

“They (police) had records of seven incidents which contained 10 attacks that Dani had disclosed, and yet didn’t see a pattern and didn’t do anything about it.

“She said ‘I’m hurt, I’m covered in redness, he’s attacked me again’ and the person said ‘yeah but he’s gone, it’s not an emergency, call back on 101’. Ultimately she died on hold waiting for someone to take her call to answer her plea for help. She died with her baby in her arms.

“You can’t grieve when there’s still doors that aren’t closed. There’s no justice. There’s questions that haven’t got answers. He’s living amongst us, he’s back here in our town.”

After being asked when she felt there could be closure for her, Charly added: “When there’s some justice for Daniella, whether it’s her voice being heard. Make her name mean something, make sure she didn’t die in vain.”

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.

Detective Superintendent Suzanne Davies, head of Professional Standards at Lincolnshire Police, said earlier this week 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.

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.

However, the dispatcher told her the situation ‘wasn’t urgent’, because her boyfriend had left.

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 Independent Office for Police Conduct cleared Lincolnshire Police of any breaches despite multiple failings highlighted in an internal report.

Lincolnshire Police response

Detective Superintendent Suzanne Davies, head of Professional Standards at Lincolnshire Police, said: “We welcome the opportunity to talk through the findings of the IOPC report, but because that report has not yet been officially published and an inquest is pending, it is not possible at this moment in time to offer comment.

“We have reached this decision after having consulted with the Coroner in Lincolnshire who will hear this case and he has advised us that responding to points raised in the IOPC report which, as we state, has not yet been officially released, could cause a risk of prejudicing proceedings at the inquest into Ms Santo’s death.

“The inquest has been opened and adjourned and proceedings are active, so we must be mindful of allowing the Coronial process to complete its fact-finding without influence or prejudice.

“A Domestic Homicide Review has been commissioned, which is a review of the circumstances in which the death of an adult has, or appears to have, resulted from violence, neglect or abuse from a person with whom they were related, had an intimate personal relationship, or with whom they shared a household, completed by an independent author.

“We will be more than happy to answer further questions as and when we can but our primary focus is ensuring that all available reviews, hearings, and forums that can look into the circumstances surrounding Ms Santo’s death are allowed to be undertaken without influence or prejudice.”

Lincolnshire Police were asked on Friday, August 13 if they would like to expand on their statement, but they said they have nothing further to add at this stage.

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