Nottingham attacks: Triple killer 'knew what he was doing' but says he's 'sorry', court hears

  • ITV News Midlands Correspondent Ben Chapman reports from Nottingham Crown Court.

Valdo Calocane, who stabbed three people to death in Nottingham last year, knew what he was doing was "morally and legally wrong" despite his mental illness, a forensic psychiatrist has told the court.

At a hearing at Nottingham Crown Court on Tuesday 23 January, prosecutors accepted his pleas of not guilty to murder and guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility due to “serious” mental illness.

University of Nottingham students Grace O’Malley-Kumar and Barnaby Webber suffered fatal knife wounds to the chest and abdomen whilst walking home at around 4:00am on Ilkeston Road on 13 June 2023.

The court heard Grace showed "incredible bravery" in trying to fight off their attacker, with Barnaby's younger brother paying tribute to him, describing him as "a hero to the world."

Just over an hour later, school caretaker Ian Coates, 65, was stabbed in the chest on Magdala Road - Calocane then stole Mr Coates' van, using it to drive into pedestrians.

Two men and a woman were injured - but all survived.

Addressing Calocane directly, Mr Coates' son James said in court: "You claim voices told you to kill people. Now listen to me – kill yourself."

Victim Barnaby Webber's younger brother told the court he has lost the "final piece of an unsolvable puzzle."

In a video statement played in court, Charlie Webber said his brother was his hero.

Describing how Barnaby stood his ground when attacked while walking home, he said: "He did not just die a hero to me but a hero to the world."

He recalled happy memories spending time with the grandparents and on holidays.

Talking about his brother’s killer, Charlie said: "[Barnaby] was the best thing that will or has ever happened in my life. [Calocane] has taken the largest part of me from myself."

Forensic psychiatrist Dr Nigel Blackwood said Calocane would not have carried out the attacks if he had not been suffering from psychosis on the day of the attacks. Calocane has paranoid schizophrenia.

The court has heard there are two options for the judge when sentencing Calocane, either a life sentence or a hospital order under the Mental Health Act. But the psychiatrist said that either way, Calocane could spend "many many years" in a secure hospital.

"Even though he has begun to respond to treatment, he remains a considerable degree of risk to those in the community," Dr Blackwood said.

The psychiatrist said Calocane has told him he is now sorry for what he did, and has admitted carrying out a "horrific, heinous crime."

Calocane told the psychiatrist the families of the victims "needed justice for the grief to heal."

The judge sentencing Calocane has a "stark choice" of imposing a "hybrid" life sentence with a hospital direction or a hospital order under the Mental Health Act, Nottingham Crown Court was told.

Prosecutor Karim Khalil KC said Calocane, who is currently a patient at the Ashworth high security psychiatric hospital on Merseyside, had been assessed by three experts, who agreed that he was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia when he stabbed to death three victims.

Accepting that abnormality of mind contributed to Calocane committing the offences, Mr Khalil told Mr Justice Turner: "Although [Calocane’s] responsibility has been diminished it has not been extinguished.

"The intention of violence on his part appears to have subsisted for a considerable period of time.

"By the evening of the 12th of June at least, he had already formed the settled intention to kill."

Court artist's impression of triple killer Valdo Calocane in court. Credit: PA

Prosecutor Karim Khalil said Calocane "knew what he was about to do" as he waited in the shadows to attack Barnaby and Grace O’Malley-Kumar from behind.

During submissions about psychiatric evidence being considered by the court, Mr Khalil said: "He hid, as we know, in the shadows.

"What he did was wait in the shadows until the two students walked past, and he followed them from behind.

"He plainly knew what he was about to do."

Prior to the fatal stabbing of van driver Ian Coates, Mr Khalil said, Calocane had caused the 65-year-old "to come from his vehicle" to be attacked.

The judge sentencing Calocane has a 'stark choice' of imposing a 'hybrid' life sentence with a hospital direction or a hospital order. Credit: PA/Nottinghamshire Police/Elizabeth Cook

"It is plain he conducted himself in a purposeful way," the Crown’s barrister added. "It is clear that his dangerousness is heightened by virtue of his ability to diminish or conceal that which he is actually doing."

Calocane’s barrister also told the court he once visited MI5’s London headquarters, asking them to stop "controlling him”.

During questioning of a psychiatrist at Nottingham Crown Court, Peter Joyce KC said: "He [Calocane] tried to surrender to MI5 at their headquarters to try and stop them controlling him.

"That’s not a concoction by him. There is a photograph taken by their systems at Thames House, saying ‘please arrest me’ – effectively ‘stop controlling me’."

Mr Joyce said the incident happened on May 31 2021, around two years before the "desperate episode" in which three people were killed on the streets of Nottingham.

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