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Meat cleaver attacker sentenced to 6.5 years behind bars

Meat cleaver attacker sentenced to 6.5 years behind bars

Wednesday 27 July 2022

Meat cleaver attacker sentenced to 6.5 years behind bars

Wednesday 27 July 2022


A 48-year-old man has been sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison for a "frenzied attack" with a meat cleaver, which left his partner with serious injuries to her head, arms and neck that required surgery.

Luis Abreu Dos Santos (48) was sentenced for the lesser charge of grave and criminal assault, after a jury were unable to reach a verdict on the charge of attempted murder at a five-day trial in April.

Laying out the facts of the case, Crown Advocate Matthew Maletriot described the attack as a “serious and sustained assault during which the victim suffered severe injuries including a fractured skull and a deep wound to her neck which was near to a major artery". 

He explained that Dos Santos and his victim were long-term partners, but their relationship had "deteriorated significantly" in the months leading up to the attack.

After his partner gave him an ultimatum, Dos Santos took her phone and attempted to read her personal messages. He tried to get staff members at a phone repair shop to help him access the phone as he didn't know the PIN code, but they informed him that this would not be possible without deleting the data.

Early in the morning of Sunday 18 October 2021, Dos Santos gained access to his partner's private Facebook messages, taking 115 photographs of them.

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Pictured: Dos Santos attacked his partner after reading her private messages.

Advocate Maletriot said that these messages formed the context for Dos Santos becoming angry and deciding to confront his partner at the next available opportunity.

The victim went to work as usual on the morning of Sunday 18 October. When she returned home at around 14:00 in the afternoon, Dos Santos was out and she decided to have a nap.

Dos Santos then returned home at around 16:00 and realised that his partner was sleeping in the bedroom. He went to the kitchen and got a meat cleaver and a large kitchen knife before going to confront his partner in the bedroom.

The victim was lying in bed facing away from the door when Dos Santos entered the bedroom, she described turning around when she heard someone entering the room and seeing Dos Santos standing next to the bed in a rage.

Advocate Maletriot told the court that the victim had said that she had "never seen him like that before".

Almost immediately, he began cutting her with the meat cleaver whilst she was still lying on bed and was unable to sit up due to the ferocity of the assault. The victim had described pleading for her life and reaching out with her hands and trying to prevent him from cutting her further.

Emergency Department A&E

Pictured: The woman needed surgery for her injuries, which were described as "life-threatening".

Forensic medical evidence identified "typical defensive wounds" on her hands and arms, and a deep wound to the neck.

Dos Santos also struck the victim in the face with the cleaver and she described how the attack only stopped when she lay motionless on the bed and pretended to be dead.

Advocate Maletriot said that Dos Santos then called 999, telling the operator: “I stabbed my missus, three times..."

Dos Santos administered first aid to his victim as instructed over the phone until the police arrived and arrested him with "blood all over his hands". The victim was taken to hospital "bleeding heavily” with "multiple injuries".

Doctors described the wounds sustained from the attack as "serious", as they “cut the deepest layers of tissue and muscle”. The wound to the neck was "particularly severe" as it was at least 15cm in length and 5cm deep, requiring surgery to close it.

Advocate Maletriot said that, while the defendant had not been charged with attempted murder, there was clearly still some “element of premeditation” to this attack in which Dos Santos "descended into jealous rage".

The Crown advocate said that Dos Santos had clearly formed the intention to confront his partner several hours before he did, when he "spent a considerable amount of time viewing and making a record of messages exchanged with another man”. 

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Pictured: Dos Santos was sentenced in the Royal Court on Wednesday morning.

He also argued that Dos Santos had decided to attack his victim before he entered the room as he had already armed himself with a meat cleaver and a kitchen knife, and started cutting her as soon as she turned to face him.

He added that it was “luck rather than judgement that major blood wounds were not severed” and said that the wounds inflicted by Dos Santos were "life-changing". He described how the meat cleaver damaged nerves and muscles, leaving the victim is unable to lift her right arm or extend it behind her back. It means that she is unable to work or perform simple household chores and struggles to dress herself every day, he said.

The Court also heard that Dos Santos' former partner has been left with "permanent physical scarring on her arms, neck and head", which has damaged her self-esteem to the point where "she will not leave the house without a long-sleeved top to cover her arms and her hair down to cover her neck".

In addition to the chronic pain and functional difficulties, Advocate Maletriot said the the victim has suffered "severe psychological harm" from the assault including PTSD, flashbacks, sleep problems and severe anxiety. 

He said that the attack had "destroyed" the victim's life and that she was "not the person she was before". While Dos Santos accepted that he injured the victim, he says that he only intended to scare her rather than harm her.

Advocate Maletriot said that Dos Santos maintained at trial that it was the victim's fault that she got hurt and did not show remorse for his actions.

The Crown recommended a prison sentence of nine years and a restraining order. They did not call for the deportation of Dos Santos as he has close family members in Jersey.

Defending, Advocate Mark Bootham said that Dos Santos accepted that his actions had caused physical and psychological damage to his ex-partner.

However, the defence lawyer suggested that the victim's poor mental health was also as a result from previous trauma experienced in her life and could not be entirely attributed to the actions of Dos Santos.

He also suggested that Dos Santos' actions immediately after the attack showed that he "clearly immediately realised that what he had done was wrong" as he called 999 and administered first aid to his victim, using a towel to reduce blood loss. The defence lawyer acknowledged that this was "not excusable but was better than leaving her bleeding", and the immediate 999 call allowed her to be treated quickly and reduced injury.

Advocate Bootham also said that Dos Santos had no previous relevant convictions and multiple references described him as “hard-working, respectable man”.

Advocate Bootham reiterated that Dos Santos is being sentenced for grave and criminal assault, not attempted murder, and said that the punishment must reflect this. He suggested that the Crown's recommended sentence of nine years was too long and called for an imprisonment of between five-and-a-half and six years for Dos Santos.

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Pictured: The prosecution argued that Dos Santos should be sentenced to nine years' imprisonment. 

Sitting alongside the Superior Number of Jurats, Commissioner Sir William Bailhache sentenced Dos Santos to six-and-a-half years in prison and a restraining order.

The Superior Number, which only sits for the most serious court cases, and was made up of Collette Anne Crill, Jeremy John Ramsden, Pamela Jean Pitman, Andrew Lawrence Cornish, and David Paul Le Heuzé. 

Handing down the sentence, Sir William Bailhache described Dos Santos' crime as a "very serious assault".

He added: "You say you are willing to undergo psychological treatment and I would endorse that. You say you do not understand how you ‘lost your mind’ at the time of the offence and this is something you should explore in your time in custody."

Detective Constable James Fowler, who was the investigating officer for the case, said following the sentence: “Dos Santos’ actions put his victim in grave danger. We would like to thank his victim for the courage, strength and bravery that she has shown throughout the whole process.

"States of Jersey Police has a dedicated department for investigating domestic abuse with a number of specialist resources it can call upon to investigate the crime and offer victims support.

"We are committed to ensuring that no stone is left unturned and offenders are put before the courts to pay for the crimes they commit.”  

SUPPORT...

  • The SARC at Dewberry House provides expert independent and confidential support to victims of sexual abuse. (01534 888222)
  • Jersey Domestic Abuse Support is an independent service developed to protect and support victims of domestic abuse, who are at risk of significant harm. (01534 880505)
  • Victim Support offers free and confidential advice to victims of crime. (01534 440496)
  • Victims First Jersey is a free and independent service offering confidential support to victims and witnesses of crime. (0800 7351612)

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