A gang of "Sweeney Todd" cannibals murdered their victims and stuffed and baked their remains into pies to sell on the streets, a Brazilian court has heard.

Trio Jorge Negromonte, 50, his wife Isabel Pires, 51, and his mistress Bruna da Silva, 25, are believed to have lured at least three women to their house with the promise of employing them as nannies before beheading, dismembering, quartering and stuffing their parts into pastries.

The cannibal ring is said that have used their victims' flesh to make stuffed pastries, known as empanadas, which they ate themselves or sold to neighbors for 50 cents, according to police.

The gang appeared at court for the first time yesterday in their home town of Pernambuco, north-east Brazil. They were accused of murdering Jessica da Silva, 17, Alexandra Falcao, 20, and Gisele da Silva, 31, but did not enter pleas, according to the Daily Mail.

However, authorities said that the alleged cannibals have previously confessed to killing another six unidentified people.

The sickening case against the trio echoes that of fictional demon barber Sweeney Todd in Victorian London. The bloodthirsty shop owner cut the throats of his victims before his accomplice Mrs. Lovett baked their remains into meat pies and sold them to unsuspecting customers of her shop.

The three are accused of having killed teenager Jessica da Silva in 2008, who was living with them along with her one-year-old daughter. Police say that Jessica's baby daughter was then forced to eat pies made from her mother's flesh as part of a "purification" ritual.

Police caught the trio after one of the women used the credit card belonging to a girl who had been reported missing near their house.

Police then dug up the garden and found remains of two bodies believed to be local girls Alexandra Falcao, 20, and Gisele da Silva, 30. Both Alexandra and Gisele had reportedly been seen near the house just before they disappeared.

However, Negromonte's brother Irenaeus said in court that his brother was not capable of the crime because his brother is vegetarian.

"His vegetarianism means it would be a contradiction for him to eat human flesh," he told the court, according to Daily Mail.

Negromonte's other brother, Emanuel, was in tears when he told the court that as a child his brother was a normal teenager, but by the age of 17, he drew comics that had scenes of violence against women.

The trio had originally told police that they were part of a sect called Cartel which aimed to purify the world and reduce the population, and after searching the house investigators found a 50-page handwritten handbook with detailed writings and drawings on cannibalism.

Five witnesses had appeared in front of a judge at the court to give evidence of the relationship between the three defendants.

"These testimonies are to prove that Jorge Beltrao and Isabel Cristina were married, he had an affair with Bruna da Silva, who subsequently passed herself off as Jessica da Silva after killing her and keeping her daughter," said prosecutor Eliane Gaia said, according to Daily Mail.

Negromonte's lawyers reportedly filed a claim of insanity.