Nottingham attacks: Barnaby Webber's mum condemns police who said he was 'properly butchered'

  • Emma Webber has written an open letter to Nottinghamshire Police after she says she read 'graphic messages' from a police WhatsApp group.

The mother of one of the Nottingham attack victims said she was "shocked to the core" after reading a message sent by a police officer describing her son as being "properly butchered".

Mrs Webber's son, Barnaby Webber, and Grace O'Malley-Kumar, both 19, and 65-year-old Ian Coates were stabbed to death by Valdo Calocane on 13 June last year.

She has now written an open letter to the Nottinghamshire Police officer who she says posted graphic details of the victims’ injuries in the chat group.

She says she's written the letter because she has been denied the opportunity to speak to the group “privately and anonymously”.

Ian Coates, Barnaby Webber and Grace O’Malley-Kumar were all killed by Valdo Calocane. Credit: Nottinghamshire Police

Calocane, 32, carried out the fatal stabbings with a dagger in Nottingham in the early hours of 13 June last year and attempted to kill three others.

In January, he was given an indefinite hospital order for manslaughter by diminished responsibility after Nottingham Crown Court heard he had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

Mrs Webber said the “callous, degrading and desensitised manner” of the comments has caused “more trauma than you can imagine”.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain, Mrs Webber said: "When I first read the message, it felt like the world was closing in, just to see those words used in such an inhumane way about my son."

"It was shocking to the core", she added.

"It's just disbelief, that another human being, somebody who pledges to serve and protect us at he public could see such a terrible, horrific act and make comments of that nature."

The letter read: “When you say ‘a couple of students have been properly butchered’ did you stop to think about the absolute terror that they felt in the moment when they were ambushed and repeatedly stabbed by a man who had planned his attack and lay waiting in the shadows for them.

“When you say ‘innards out and everything’ did you think about the agony they felt and the final thoughts that went through their minds as this vicious individual inflicted wounds so serious that they had no chance of surviving?

James Coates, son of Ian Coates, Emma Webber, mother of Barnaby Webber and Dr Sanjoy Kumar, father of Grace O’Malley-Kumar Credit: Lucy North/PA

“Did you relate the excited urgency in your message of spreading ‘big news’ and preparing for a busy shift that countless lives had been destroyed forever?”

Mrs Webber said she has the “utmost respect” for the emergency services, but added anyone “who can witness the details of such a horror as happened in the early hours of the 14 June 2023; and refer to lost children as butchered animals; should seriously consider their position”.

The officer who wrote the message has received a management warning, Mrs Webber said she understands.

She said she did not know how many officers were in the group.

Speaking directly to the author of the message, she said: “I pray you will read this and pause for a while. Dig a little deeper for compassion and care. Show the respect in the future that you did not afford Barney.

“My aim is not to cause undue shame, or to have anyone publicly vilified; there’s no need to add yet more pain; I just hope that by reaching out to educate and explain, my voice might make a difference.

“If you feel able and wish to make contact know that you can and it will be kept fully private. I have written this open letter only because of the actions of your Chief Constable and her senior leadership team.”

On 8 May the sentence handed to Calocane will be reviewed at the Court of Appeal after Attorney General Victoria Prentis concluded it was “unduly lenient”.

Mrs Webber has previously said she has “lost faith” in Nottinghamshire Police’s leadership and called for the chief constable to step aside while allegations of failings are investigated.

She raised concerns after it emerged the son of the force’s boss, Kate Meynell, was among members of the police WhatsApp group in which graphic details were posted about the killings.

The force is being investigated by both the police watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) and the College of Policing after coming under fire over its handling of the case.

A force investigation found that 11 members of staff viewed material about the case without any legitimate reason for doing so. Three faced disciplinary action but eight were instead handed “performance interventions”.

Earlier this year, Ms Meynell said she was “horrified” after one of her officers viewed bodycam footage showing the aftermath of the attacks. The special constable was sacked in December.

Barnaby Webber, second left, with his father David Webber, mother Emma Webber and brother Charlie Credit: Family handout/PA

Meanwhile, PC Matthew Gell was given a final written warning after a misconduct hearing in January found he breached confidentiality standards after sharing information about the case in a text message.

Another staff member will also face misconduct proceedings.

A spokesman for Nottinghamshire Police said: “It would be inappropriate to comment further due to the ongoing independent investigation by the IOPC, and the review by the College of Policing.”

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