Tuesday 16 July 2024
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Valdo Calocane: Judge ‘Satisfied with mental illness diagnosis’ – ‘Justice system failed us’ say families of victims

A man responsible for killing two students and a school caretaker on the streets of Nottingham and then attempting to run over three pedestrians has been sentenced.

Valdo Calocane, aged 32, will be detained in a high-security hospital following his sentencing at Nottingham Crown Court (25 January).

The judge told Calocane it is likely he will never be released, so that he can receive treatment for paranoid schizophrenia – a mental illness that can be “mitigated” with treatment but not cured. Judge Mr Justice Turner added he was satisfied Calocane would not have committed his “appalling” crimes had he not been suffering from the illness.

In the early hours of Tuesday 13 June 2023, the city was shaken by a series of brutal attacks which left three people dead.

University of Nottingham students Grace O’Malley-Kumar and Barnaby Webber, both 19, were fatally stabbed in Ilkeston Road.

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They were walking home from an end-of-term party at Przym nightclub and were around 200 metres from their student accommodation when the savage attack occurred.

Just over an hour later, school caretaker Ian Coates, 65, was killed in a further knife attack in Magdala Road where his white van was then stolen by Calocane.
Three people were then hit by the van and were lucky to survive the impact.
Calocane was located by police shortly after the attacks.

He was tasered by armed police officers in Bentinck Road and arrested and charged with three murders and three attempted murders.

Calocane, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to three counts of manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility and three counts of attempted murder at Nottingham Crown Court.

The Crown accepted his pleas after four psychiatric reports found Calocane suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and had a “serious mental health” episode at the time of the attacks.

However, they said he would have understood the nature of his conduct, namely killing his victims with a knife and running over three others in a van.

Calocane had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act several times and released by mental health services before he went on to commit the attacks.

The attacks unfolded over a period of about 90 minutes across several parts of the city.

Calocane had travelled up from London on the train prior to the attacks at around 11.30pm on June 12 before taking a tram to the Radford area.

He had told his family by phone “this is the last time I will talk to you”.

He spent several hours walking around the city before hiding in a pedestrian alleyway near Ilkeston Road dressed in black with a rucksack containing three knives and a scaffolding pole.

The prosecution said Calocane had clearly planned to “hide and wait” for potential victims and this was designed for “the maximum element of surprise.”

Just before 4am, he emerged from the alleyway and repeatedly stabbed Barnaby and Grace in Ilkeston Road before calmly walking away from the scene.

Officers were alerted by a 999 call made by a neighbour who heard screaming.

Paramedics arrived within minutes but due to the serious injuries sustained were unable to save Barnaby and Grace.

Approximately one hour later, Calocane was caught on CCTV trying to break into supported living accommodation in Mapperley Road, having walked there via Forest Recreation Ground.

Footage shows Calocane trying to climb through a downstairs window before being pushed away by a resident.

The defendant then walked to nearby Magdala Road, in the Mapperley Park area, where, at around 5.14am, he killed Mr Coates before taking his white van and heading towards the city centre.

He deliberately ran over a man in Milton Street before minutes later driving into a man and a woman at the junction of Upper Parliament Street and Market Street.

The Milton Street victim sustained multiple injuries including a fractured skull and bleed on the brain.

The other two victims, who were on their way to work, also suffered injuries.
The woman was treated for broken ribs, a broken toe and a bruised spleen, while the man suffered wounds to his head and leg.

All three were lucky to survive the attacks.

Officers managed to track down the van and arrested Calocane in Bentinck Road at 5.35am – 91 minutes after the first 999 call.

The officers approached the van after it came to a stop and armed officers tasered Calocane after he produced a knife.

He was charged three days after his arrest.

Calocane, who was a former Nottingham University student, knew none of the victims he attacked on the day.

Calocane was sentenced at Nottingham Crown Court on January 25.

Assistant Chief Constable Rob Griffin, who has led the overall policing response to the events of June 13, said:

“The devastating impact that the events of 13 June have had and continue to have for the families of those killed and those that survived these dreadful attacks are immeasurable.

“Today, my thoughts remain with the loved ones of each of the victims and those who continue to be affected by this tragedy.

“The attacks were utterly senseless and resulted in the loss of life for three entirely innocent people.

“Grace and Barnaby were just walking home from a student night out while Ian was carrying out his daily work.

“The events of June 13 also changed the lives forever of three other innocent victims.

“Wayne, Sharon and Marcin, who were driven over by this defendant, were simply walking through the city centre.

“We will never forget those whose lives were so cruelly taken, or those who survived the attacks. We are committed to do all that we can to continue to provide the support they need.

“Nor will we forget the remarkable spirit shown in the aftermath of the attack as our city came together in solidarity and showed its support for those affected.”

Detective Superintendent Leigh Sanders, who led the investigation, added:

“The savage attacks that unfolded on 13 June were terrifying not only for the victims but also for those who witnessed them – and I’d like to thank those who reported incidents or came forward with vital information.

“It was also a very unnerving day for people living or working in Nottingham, who woke to find large parts of the city cordoned off while we investigated the deeply disturbing events that had unfolded. I’d like to thank the public for their patience and support while we gathered all the evidence.

“This was one of the darkest days for our city and my thoughts remain with all those affected by these horrific crimes.”

As part of his closing statement, Judge Mr Justice Turner said:

“In the early hours of 13 June 2023, you committed a series of atrocities in this city which ended the lives of three innocent people. You then went on to attack three more – fully intending, but failing, to kill them too. Your sickening crimes both shocked the nation and wrecked the lives of your surviving victims and the families of them all.”

More on this story 

Ian Coates’s son has spoken outside court with other family members reported the BBC

James Coates says his heart also goes out to the other victims of Calocane’s attack, who were injured but survived.

He criticises the judge’s decision, saying the punishment for Calocane’s “calculated, cold, brutal killing spree” has been reduced down to something that falls within the same legal guidelines as death by dangerous driving.

“This man is a killer – murder was the only thing he cared about,” he says.

He adds that his family and the city of Nottingham have “suffered a great loss”.

He says both the police and the NHS must be “held accountable for their failures”.

“This man has made a mockery of the system and he has got away with murder.”

He added that “NHS mental health trusts have to be held accountable for their failures, along with the police”.

“We will never come to terms with the loss of our beloved daughter Grace, how she lost her life [and] her heroic actions,” says her father Dr Sanjoy Kumar.

Grace was a “gift to us” and a “gift to the country”, he says, thanking his “wonderful family… and all of our friends for their continued love and support”.

Kumar says his family has never questioned Calocane’s mental health diagnosis. But he believes the “lack of toxicology [report]”, “contemporaneous mental health assessment” and “missed opportunities” require further review.

“We will look for answers regarding missed opportunities to intervene and prevent this heinous crime,” he adds.

Barnaby Webber’s mother Emma says the families have been “railroaded” and presented with a “fait accompli” to accept manslaughter charges.

Continuing, Emma Webber says she foolishly trusted the system, adding that the killer knew entirely he was wrong.

She notes “grave concerns” with Nottinghamshire Police and tells the assistant chief constable he has “blood on your hands”.

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