Family of Nottingham stabbing victim ‘disgusted’ by plan to avoid public inquiry

The family of one of the students stabbed to death in Nottingham have condemned the “disgusting” lack of calls for a public inquiry into the triple killing.

Valdo Calocane stabbed 19-year-old students Barnaby Webber and Grace O’Malley-Kumar and school caretaker Ian Coates, 65, to death with a dagger in the early hours of June 13 last year.

Last week, a judge handed the 32-year-old a hospital order at his sentencing for manslaughter by diminished responsibility after Nottingham Crown Court heard he had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, which Mr Webber’s family called a “huge insult”.

The healthcare watchdog has been asked to report by March on its findings in an investigation into the care Calocane received at Nottinghamshire Healthcare Foundation Trust before the killings occurred.

Health Secretary Victoria Atkins, announcing the Care Quality Commission (CQC) review, said it will provide quicker answers for the families of victims than a public inquiry would.

However, Mr Webber’s parents said a review would be just a “toe in the water” and “not enough”, calling for a full public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the attack.

His mother, Emma Webber, told BBC Breakfast: “I have heard the comments of Victoria Atkins and I disagree. It needs to be much more than reviewing the mental health failings and services in Nottingham.

“I bet it’s not just Nottingham that there are failings going on, by the way – I think it’s across the whole country – but it’s also the failings of the police to investigate and act accordingly up to the attacks, and also the investigation of the case.

“We’ve got real concerns about the way that we’ve been managed by the CPS; of course we’re really unhappy with the outcome from last week.”

The student’s father, David Webber, said he and his wife are “horrified” that there are currently no plans for an inquiry.

“If they don’t feel that warrants a public inquiry, what does? It’s disgusting.

“There’s so much stuff that goes on in this country at the moment … we’re seeing the Post Office scandal taking countless years and wrecking countless lives to get there. Does this need to be another one of those? Do we need to keep fighting for the rest of our lives to get some form of justice and get this looked at properly?”

Mrs Webber added: “We don’t want to be the next Post Office families or Hillsborough families, but I say this to anybody in charge and decision-makers: you have got the full weight of the Webber family, the O’Malley-Kumar family and the Coates family all united behind this.

“And if we’re still here – and I have to be here in 20 years’ time claiming my pension – I’ll still be fighting to get appropriate justice and appropriate answers.”

The couple attended a meeting (pictured) with Sir Keir Starmer at Labour’s headquarters in London on Monday along with Ms O’Malley-Kumar’s father Dr Sanjoy Kumar and mother Sinead O’Malley as well as Mr Coates’ son James.

The victims’ family members are also due to meet Ms Atkins while Mr Webber’s parents have said they want to speak with Janine McKinney from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Meanwhile, Attorney General Victoria Prentis was due to meet Director of Public Prosecutions Stephen Parkinson to discuss the case.

Mrs Webber told ITV’s Good Morning Britain she was “aghast” at the opening statements from the CPS barrister in court last week, adding: “I will never accept anything other than Barnaby was murdered.”

She also believes there were “no obvious” signs of psychosis from Calocane on the day of the attack, and told of her concerns that the killer could be released if he responds well to treatment in hospital.

Judge Mr Justice Turner said Calocane will “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 other people.

The Attorney General is considering whether judges should review the sentence after receiving a submission that it could be unduly lenient.

Asked why the Government had not set up a public inquiry, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We haven’t ruled out further action at this stage. There is already work going on across government.

“The Health Secretary has ordered a review into the mental health services at the NHS trust where Calocane was treated, the Attorney General is also looking at the sentence and will meet with the Director of Public Prosecutions, I believe, to discuss that later today.

“The policing minister is meeting senior leaders at Nottinghamshire Police to discuss the circumstances.”

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2024, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Stefan Rousseau / PA.