Families criticise high-security hospital order for Nottingham knifeman who killed three

The families of three people killed in a spate of “atrocities” committed by a knifeman with paranoid schizophrenia said “true justice has not been served” as he was handed a hospital order by a judge.

Emma Webber, mother of student Barnaby Webber, 19, who was killed alongside his friend Grace O’Malley-Kumar, also 19, and school caretaker Ian Coates, 65, on June 13 last year, said Nottinghamshire Police have “blood on your hands” after Valdo Calocane’s pleas to manslaughter by diminished responsibility were accepted earlier this week.

Her comments came after judge Mr Justice Turner said the 32-year-old would “very probably” be detained in a high-security hospital for the rest of his life as he sentenced him for the “atrocious” killings, as well as the attempted murder of three others.

Speaking on the steps outside Nottingham Crown Court after the sentencing hearing concluded, Mrs Webber (pictured) said the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) only met the bereaved families on November 24.

She said: “We were presented with a fait accompli that the decision had been made to accept manslaughter charges.

“At no point during the previous five-and-a-half-months were we given any indication that this could conclude in anything other than murder.

“We trusted in our system, foolishly as it turns out.

“We do not dispute that the murderer is mentally unwell and has been for a number of years.

“However the pre-meditated planning, the collection of lethal weapons, hiding in the shadows and brutality of the attacks are that of an individual who knew exactly what he was doing.

“He knew entirely that it was wrong but he did it anyway.”

Addressing Nottinghamshire Police’s Assistant Chief Constable, Rob Griffin, Mrs Webber said: “If you had just done your jobs properly, there’s a very good chance our beautiful boy would be alive today.

“There is so much more to say and clearly serious questions regarding this case and events leading up to this monster being out in society.

“But for today, our darling son, his dear friend Grace, and a wonderfully kind grandfather, Ian, have been stolen from us forever and let down by the very system that should have been protecting them.”

Calocane showed no emotion in the dock and stood with his hands by his side as Mr Justice Turner sentenced him to be re-admitted to and detained at Ashworth High Security Hospital on Merseyside, where he has been since November.

Addressing the killer, Mr Justice Turner said: “You committed a series of atrocities in this city which ended the lives of three people.

“Your sickening crimes both shocked the nation and wrecked the lives of your surviving victims and the families of them all.”

He said the “harrowing” details of the attacks have been “fully recounted and explored” in court over the past days and Calocane sentenced many relatives and friends to “a life of grief and pain”.

The judge told the triple killer: “There was never any doubt that it was you who had committed these appalling crimes.

“It soon became clear however that the central issue in this case would relate to whether at the time of committing these offences you were suffering from symptoms of severe mental disorder.”

The judge added that the psychiatric evidence did not detract from the “horror” and “disastrous” impact of the offences, but he said, in his view, Calocane’s abnormality of mind had “significantly contributed” to him perpetrating the string of attacks.

Despite being detained in hospital, Mr Justice Turner said he still “remains dangerous”.

During the three-day hearing, the court heard that Calocane, a mechanical engineering graduate from the University of Nottingham, hid in the shadows in Ilkeston Road at around 4am on June 13, armed with a dagger, before beginning his attack on Mr Webber and Ms O’Malley-Kumar as they walked back to their student accommodation after an end-of-term night out.

Witness evidence read to the court described “an awful, blood-curdling scream” as Calocane, dressed all in black, inflicted at least 10 stab wounds on Mr Webber and then 23 separate dagger wounds on Ms O’Malley-Kumar, who was attacked as she tried to protect her friend from the blows.

Family members in the public gallery sobbed on Tuesday as prosecutor Karim Khalil KC told the court that Ms O’Malley-Kumar’s injuries were too severe and she collapsed as Mr Webber tried to defend himself from the ground, kicking out at his attacker, before Calocane “calmly” walked away.

The killer then walked slowly through the Radford area to Mapperley Park, ringing his brother at 4.52am to say “This will be the last time I speak to you. Take the family out of the country.”

Asked if he was going to do something stupid, Calocane told his brother: “It’s already done.”

Mr Coates was driving his van in nearby Magdala Road and was “lured” from his vehicle before being stabbed 15 times, suffering wounds to his abdomen and chest, at about 5.14am.

Witnesses described hearing “repeated” screaming and someone saying “leave me” before Mr Coates’ body was found at around 5.30am by a passer-by, who called the police.

Leaving Mr Coates dying in the street, Calocane stole his van, driving it south onto Woodborough Road, towards the city centre, and at 5.23am was driving south on Milton Street, where pedestrian Wayne Birkett was crossing the road.

The court heard Calocane “deliberately and violently changed the direction” of the van, hitting Mr Birkett and causing him to be “flipped” on to the pavement, leaving him with a fractured skull and a bleed to the brain.

Despite being seen by a marked police car at around 5.29am, which activated its lights, Calocane accelerated away and knocked down Sharon Miller and Marcin Gawronski, who were walking to work across a pedestrian central reservation at a junction of Market Street.

Calocane was arrested after being tasered around five minutes after the final victims were injured, after producing a knife when the van was stopped and boxed in by police vehicles.

A search of his backpack found two other knives and a scaffolding pole which prosecutors said was not used in the attacks but served as “back up” should the dagger not be “available” to him.

The court heard that Calocane’s “serious” mental illness, which he was not taking his prescribed medication for, meant he would hear voices telling him he needed to kill people or his family would be hurt.

He is also known to have visited MI5’s London headquarters two years before the fatal attack to ask them to stop “controlling him”.

Calocane had previously been detained in hospital four times under mental health laws and was arrested in September 2021 for assaulting a police officer.

Three psychiatrists agreed a hospital order would be the best course of action for Calocane, who believed he was being “interfered with” by “malign forces”, with all of them agreeing in court that the attack would not have happened had he not been in the grip of “severe psychosis”.

Mr Griffin, of Nottinghamshire Police, said in a statement on Wednesday that the force “should have done more” to arrest Calocane before the fatal attacks of June 13.

In August 2022, Calocane was reported for summons after assaulting a police officer and was due to attend court in September for that assault, but failed to appear and a warrant for his arrest was issued.

“The defendant was never arrested for that warrant, which was still outstanding at the point of his arrest in June 2023,” Mr Griffin said.

“I have personally reviewed this matter and we should have done more to arrest him.”

In a statement released after the sentencing, the University of Nottingham, which both Mr Webber and Ms O’Malley-Kumar attended and where Calocane graduated in 2022, said their thoughts were with the victims.

It added: “The university is not a statutory care provider but works with local healthcare and other agencies to ensure that serious mental health issues are appropriately escalated.

“We are confident that, in Mr Calocane’s case, the university took the right steps to escalate concerns to the appropriate agencies and highlight potential risks based on what it knew.”

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