Nottingham attacks: 'Monster' triple killer Valdo Calocane sentenced to hospital order

Valdo Calocane has been sentenced to a hospital order.

A triple killer branded a "monster" by his victims' families has been sentenced to a high-security hospital order after admitting manslaughter by diminished responsibility.

Valdo Calocane, 32, who has paranoid schizophrenia, fatally stabbed 65-year-old Ian Coates and students Grace O'Malley-Kumar and Barnaby Webber, both aged 19, in a spate of "atrocities" in Nottingham in the early hours of 13 June 2023.

Prosecutors accepted his pleas of not guilty to murder and guilty to manslaughter at a hearing at Nottingham Crown Court on Tuesday, on the grounds of diminished responsibility due to "serious" mental illness.

He also admitted three counts of attempted murder relating to pedestrians he deliberately targeted with Mr Coates' van.

University of Nottingham students Grace and Barnaby suffered fatal knife wounds to the chest and abdomen, while school caretaker Mr Coates was stabbed in the chest.

Barnaby Webber, Grace O'Malley-Kumar, both aged 19, and Ian Coates, aged 65, were killed by Valdo Calocane.

Sentencing Calocane on Thursday, judge Mr Justice Turner said the killer would be detained in a high-security hospital "very probably for the rest of your life".

He 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 high security Ashworth Hospital since November, Mr Justice Turner said he still “remains dangerous”.

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

A spokesman for Attorney General Victoria Prentis confirmed her office had received a referral arguing the sentence administered on Thursday had been unduly lenient.

It gives the Cabinet minister 28 days from sentencing to review the request and decide whether to refer the case to the Court of Appeal to decide whether the sentence was appropriate.

ITV News' Midlands Correspondent Ben Chapman reports from outside Nottingham Crown Court

Speaking after the sentencing, Barnaby's family said that “true justice has not been served today”.

His mother Emma Webber said the families of Calocane’s victims had been “let down” by the CPS and police after the killer was handed an indefinite hospital order.

She said: “We as a devastated family have been let down by multiple agency failings and ineffectiveness.

“The CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) did not consult us as has been reported – instead we have been rushed, hastened and railroaded.”

Emma Webber, mother of Barnaby Webber making a statement alongside relatives of the victims, outside Nottingham Crown Court. Credit: Jacob King/PA Wire

Calocane was branded “wicked”, a “monster” and a “menace to society” by the family members of the three people he killed.

During the three-day hearing, the court heard how Calocane, a mechanical engineering graduate from the University of Nottingham, hid in the shadows in Ilkeston Road at around 4am on 13 June armed with a dagger before beginning his attack on Barnaby and Grace 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 inflicted at least 10 stab wounds on Barnaby and then 23 separate dagger wounds on Grace, who was attacked as she tried to protect her friend.

The killer then walked slowly through the Radford area to Mapperley Park, ringing his brother 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’s body was found by a passer-by at around 5.30am who called the police.

Leaving Mr Coates dying in the street, Calocane stole his van and deliberately drove it into pedestrians. Two men and a woman were injured in the attack.

The moment Calocane was arrested by police

Offering mitigation on behalf of Calocane on Wednesday, defence barrister Peter Joyce KC urged Mr Justice Turner not to consider a whole-life order.

Mr Joyce told the court: “There are very few whole-life orders and they have all, without exception, been for offences of murder.

“This man is not before you for murder, he is before you for manslaughter.”

Mr Joyce said schizophrenia had “stalked down” a man of previously impeccable character and behaviour.

Calocane stood with his hands at his side and showed no emotion as he looked towards the sentencing judge on Thursday.

Court artist's impression of triple-killer Calocane pictured in court on Tuesday 23 January. Credit: Elizabeth Cook/PA Wire

Rishi Sunak has sent his “heartfelt condolences” to the families of three people killed in the Nottingham attacks, as Downing Street said agencies should learn any lessons required from the incident.

A spokeswoman for the prime minister said: “This is truly harrowing case and the Prime Minister’s heartfelt condolences go out to the family of Grace, Barnaby and Ian and to all their loved ones.

“As a parent, when you send a child to university you expect them to be safe and the Prime Minister cannot imagine the anger and grief that the families are suffering.

“Clearly it is right that all of the relevant agencies look back and check through to ensure that all reasonable steps were taken and processes followed to ensure that any lessons learned are done so to ensure that we keep the public safe and also ensure that they are putting victims front and centre in the criminal justice system. We will look at that, it is right that the agencies also do so.

“But first and foremost, the Prime Minister would like to extend his heartfelt condolences to the families.”

Commenting after the case, Janine McKinney, of the CPS, said: “Valdo Calocane’s actions that morning sent shockwaves through our entire community.

“He left three bereaved families devastated by grief and others with life-changing physical and emotional injuries.

“These were savage, ferocious attacks against entirely innocent people who had no way of defending themselves.

“His pleas to manslaughter were only accepted after very careful analysis of the evidence.

“We reached this conclusion because the expert medical evidence was overwhelming; namely that his actions were substantially impaired by psychosis resulting from paranoid schizophrenia.”

In a statement, Ifti Majid, the Chief Executive of Nottinghamshire Health NHS Foundation Trusts, said: "Our thoughts are with the families and friends of Barnaby Webber, Grace O'Malley-Kumar and Ian Coates, and everyone affected by the tragic events in Nottingham in June 2023."

He added: "As well as supporting Nottinghamshire Police with their investigations, in the event of a serious incident relating to a former patient, we robustly review our own interactions with that person to identify any learning.

"In this case, the patient was under our care between May 2020 and September 2022 with episodes of care both as an inpatient and in the community as an outpatient.

"It is important to remember that this person has been convicted of a crime of the most serious kind and there are many people who live with severe mental health issues who do not offend and are supported to live well in their community. 

"We always aim to care for people in the least restrictive way and to support people to live well in their own homes and society. If a patient no longer engages with our services and support and they do not meet criteria to be detained under the Mental Health Act, they are discharged back to the care of their GP and can be referred back into our services at any time.

"Once again, I wish to send my condolences and thoughts to everyone affected by this case. We will continue to work with our partners in the Police and health services to continue to learn.”

A spokesperson from NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire clarified that when Calocane was discharged back to the care of his GP, "several attempts" were made to contact him, but "no response was received."

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