Mother of tragic Jessica arrested by PJ
Detectives admitted being reduced to tears on seeing Jéssica's body, so badly had the little girl been abused

Jéssica’s brutal death: all four principal defendants get 25 years

Mother, ‘nanny’ and family get maximum jail time under Portuguese law

The four main defendants in the murder case of 3-year-old Jéssica, in Setúbal last summer, have been sentenced to 25 years in jail by Setúbal Court – the maximum sentence allowed under Portuguese law.

In their closing arguments at the trial last month, public prosecutors asked for 25 years for Jéssica’s mother, Inês Sanches, and for the child’s alleged nanny, Ana Pinto, her husband, Justo Montes, and their daughter, Esmeralda Montes.

The four were duly convicted of qualified homicide by omission. 

Presiding judge of the panel of judges, Pedro Godinho, said the child was “a defenceless human being who lost the right to a childhood in a medieval way”.

“The question that I cannot get out of my head is ‘why?” he stressed today.

Says Lusa, throughout more than two hours of reading the judgment, Judge Godinho made a point of addressing the defendants in colloquial language because he understood that they would better understand then what was being said to them.

As for the son of the alleged nanny, Eduardo Montes, also a defendant in this case, the Public Prosecutor’s Office dropped all charges.

On leaving the the courthouse a free man, Eduardo Montes told journalists that he “should never have come (in) to this process”. Asked about his family’s conviction, he replied that ‘justice had been done’.

During his reading of the judgement, Judge Godinho pointed out that this trial had seen several incidents in which “those who were there did not want to tell what happened, and the little they said were lies.”

The only witness “who spoke”, he said, was Jéssica, through the medico-legal expertise carried out after her death.

“Fortunately, we had the help of science,” he said. 

Scientific investigation determined that the child was subjected to more than 70 blows and more than 70 bites over a period of five days, in addition to burns on her face, violent hair pulling and three strong blows of her head on a hard surface.

During the five days that the girl stayed at the alleged nanny’s house, according to the court, she was exposed to various substances, including cocaine, methadone and paracetamol.

The case dates back to June 2022, when 3-year-old Jessica died due to ill-treatment inflicted in the care of the woman who, according to the mother’s initial account to the authorities, was a nanny.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office indictment stated that during the days she was at Ana Pinto’s house as a guarantee of payment of a debt of just €200 owed by her mother, the girl was subjected to several episodes of violent mistreatment and used as a drug mule.

Jéssica was only returned to her mother around 10am on 20 June 2022, at a time when she was no longer reacting to any stimuli.

The obvious signs of her suffering were ignored for several hours by the mother, a fact that the investigation considered may also have contributed to the child’s death, which occurred a few hours later at the Hospital de São Bernardo, in Setúbal.