• Tuesday, April 16, 2024

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Court accepts manslaughter plea in Nottingham stabbing case

Grace O’Malley-Kumar’s family had originally hoped for her killer to be tried for murder

Flowers, balloons, and tributes lay on the steps of Nottingham Council House after three people were killed and another three hurt in June 2023, in Nottingham, England. Nottingham University students Barnaby Webber and Grace O Malley-Kumar, both aged 19, and school caretaker Ian Coates, 65, were stabbed to death on Tuesday morning with the attacker going into the city centre and running over people with a stolen van. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

By: Kimberly Rodrigues

The family of 19-year-old Grace O’Malley-Kumar, who was stabbed to death last June in Nottingham while heroically defending her friend from a knife attack by killer Valdo Calocane heard on Tuesday (23) that the court has accepted Calocane’s pleas of manslaughter based on diminished responsibility.

While the court’s decision to accept the manslaughter plea was finalised, O’Malley-Kumar’s family, who admire her bravery, had originally hoped for Calocane to be tried for murder.

Grace O’Malley-Kumar hailed from Woodford, London, where she was a medical student and a dedicated hockey player – Image Credit: Twitter:@SouthgateHC

O’Malley-Kumar showed “incredible bravery” as she stepped in to protect her friend Barnaby Webber, 19, from an assault by Calocane. The confrontation escalated when Calocane turned his violent actions towards her.

The family of O’Malley-Kumar who was stabbed on June 13 have described her as a “hero” for her efforts to save her friend, who also died in the same incident.

O’Malley-Kumar and Webber were victims of the knife attacks in Ilkeston Road after 04:00 BST that occurred as they were returning from a night out celebrating the completion of their exams.

Calocane also killed Ian Coates, a school caretaker, in a separate attack while he was on his way to work.

Calocane has confessed to the killings of Grace, Barnaby, and Ian, pleading diminished responsibility, a claim that has since been accepted by the Crown Prosecution Service.

“Grace’s last moments were in pain and that’s something that really hurts me to think about and she was a hero, that was her character”, her brother, James, 17, told Sky News.

Calocane, 32, who also went by the name Adam Mendes, had a background of mental health issues.

Prosecutors agreed to a manslaughter plea from Calocane due to diminished responsibility, following his denial of murder charges in November.

Speaking about the court’s acceptance of Calocane’s pleas, Grace’s father, Dr Sanjoy Kumar said, “It’s very hard to accept for a father and I’m sure for a brother, but we have faith in the legal system.”

“We have faith in the judiciary and have faith in the court. And we hope that they do Grace justice.”

The court was informed that Calocane was experiencing “serious” mental health issues, a report by the BBC said.

Prosecutor Karim Khalil KC mentioned that the families of the victims were consulted prior to the prosecution’s acceptance of the pleas submitted.

Dr Kumar expressed his belief that his daughter would have been dissatisfied with the outcome of the case.
Calocane also confessed to the attempted murder of three pedestrians struck by a van.

This van had been stolen from Coates, whom Calocane had stabbed following his assault on the two students.

Khalil detailed in court how Webber suffered “grave injuries” from being “repeatedly” stabbed with a dagger, causing him to collapse to the ground.

Amidst this attack, O’Malley-Kumar demonstrated “incredible bravery” by trying to defend her friend.

She engaged in a struggle with the assailant, 32-year-old Calocane, even managing to push him into the road. However, her efforts tragically redirected the attacker’s focus to her, and he was “as uncompromisingly brutal in his assault” on her as well, Khalil added.

In the courtroom, family members in the public gallery were visibly distraught, shedding tears as Khalil described the scene.

He recounted that O’Malley-Kumar sustained critical injuries and collapsed while Webber, in a desperate effort to protect himself from the ground, kicked at his assailant. Following this, Calocane walked away from the scene “calmly.”

The court also heard that after committing the double murder, Calocane proceeded to a residential hostel on Mapperley Road, arriving there around 05:00.

At 05:04, he attempted to enter the building through ground-floor windows but was forced to “retreat” after an occupant confronted and punched him in the face.

Shortly thereafter, around 05:14, school caretaker Coates, who was driving his Vauxhall van on Magdala Road, became Calocane’s next victim.

Coates was repeatedly stabbed, sustaining injuries to his abdomen and chest. Khalil informed the court, “The defendant then took Ian Coates’ van, leaving him for dead.”

Members of the public discovered 65-year-old Coates shortly after 05:30, finding him unresponsive. Paramedics and police arrived on the scene soon after, but he was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.

The court heard that after stealing Coates’ van, Calocane hit Wayne Birkett while he was crossing Milton Street, leaving him with a fractured skull and brain bleed, but he was lucky to survive.

Calocane then drove recklessly, evading a police car by speeding off and subsequently hitting Sharon Miller and Marcin Gawronski, who were on their way to work. Both Miller and Gawronski were fortunate to survive.

Calocane was finally arrested five minutes after these incidents, being subdued by a Taser. He was found with a knife when police boxed in the van.

At a prior hearing, Calocane’s defense attorney, Peter Joyce KC, said that his client does not contest the physical events as described by the prosecution. However, he emphasised that Calocane was experiencing “extreme” mental illness during the incident.

Calocane is now scheduled for a two-day sentencing hearing.

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