Valentina Fonseca

Stepmother who watched telly while child lay dying sees 18 year jail term halved

The stepmother who was described as watching television while the daughter of her partner lay dying on the sofa has seen an appeal court halve her 18 year jail term.

The appalling killing of Valentina Fonseca is still fresh in people’s memories (click here).

Father Sandro Bernardo and his partner Márcia Monteiro were only jailed seven months ago, for 25 and 18 years respectively (click here).

Now, Márcia has seen that sentence halved, which essentially means she can look forward to parole in just over four years time.

Parole for a woman complicit in the murder of a child; a woman who helped to dispose of the body and went along with the pretence that nine year old Valentina had left the house in her pyjamas while everyone lay sleeping.

Initially found guilty of “qualified murder by omission” and the desecration of a corpse, Márcia Monteiro has now been considered “not to have participated in the agressions” that caused Valentina to die from a brain hemorrhage, nor to have given them her “consent.” 

Coimbra appeal court judges nonetheless observed that she was the only person in the house who could have intervened “in the sense of avoiding” the death of the child – but she didn’t.

Tabloid Correio da Manhã today makes no bones of the situation

A column alongside the news story says: “The Appeal Court now says it was not qualified murder but simple murder. That Márcia acted by omission and that, instead of 18 years in jail, she should only spend nine. Serving ⅔ of her sentence (this means), Márcia will only have to spend six years behind bars. A year and a half has already gone by. In a little more than four more she will be free”.

But the emotive column by journalist Tânia Laranjo – who covered the horror from start to finish – suggests Márcia will actually never be free, as she is incapable of showing remorse.

The Coimbra judges recognised that Sandro Bernardo hasn’t been able to show remorse. They reduced his 25 year sentence by only one year.

But in Márcia’s case, their consideration was that the 39-year-old had “a lower intensity in the relationship of kinship” with Valentina. 

The court understood that Ms Monteiro had “said several times to her partner to stop with the aggressions and never participated in the mistreatment” – something clearly not taken on board by the first panel of judges.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com