• Friday, June 21, 2024

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Nottingham victims’ families disappointed by ruling on killer’s sentence

Lady Chief Justice Baroness Carr concluded there was “no error” in the approach taken by Justice Turner at Nottingham Crown Court in January.

The two 19-year-olds Barnaby Webber and Grace O’Malley-Kumar were fatally stabbed on June 13 – Image Credit: Nottinghamshire Police

By: Pramod Thomas

THE families of Nottingham attack victims have expressed their ‘deep disappointment’ following the court’s decision to uphold Valdo Calocane’s sentence.

Criticising the criminal justice system, they said they now face a lifelong mission to ensure he is never released, media reports said.

Three senior judges at the Court of Appeal in London announced on Tuesday (14) that they declined to alter the sentence of Calocane, 32, who killed three people in Nottingham last summer.

Students Barnaby Webber and Grace O’Malley-Kumar, both 19, and 65-year-old Ian Coates died after they were fatally attacked by Calocane on June 13, 2023.

He received an indefinite hospital order after prosecutors accepted his plea of manslaughter due to diminished responsibility.

In February, the attorney general referred the case to the Court of Appeal, arguing for a “hybrid” sentence for Calocane, who has paranoid schizophrenia. However, three senior judges dismissed this, stating that despite the “unimaginable grief” caused, his sentence was was not unduly lenient as his mental illness was the sole cause of the crimes.

Lady Chief Justice Baroness Carr concluded there was “no error” in the approach taken by Justice Turner at Nottingham Crown Court in January.

Dr Sanjoy Kumar and Dr Sinead O’Malley, the parents of Grace O’Malley-Kumar, spoke outside the Court of Appeal in London, joined by other grieving family members.

Kumar said, “The attorney general’s case has not been successful. This is disappointing, but not unexpected. The Nottingham attacks were entirely preventable. Nottinghamshire Police failed to produce a warrant for many months, a flawed investigation, no toxicology, over-reliance on psychiatric reports.

“Leicestershire Police failed to arrest Valdo Calocane. This is a failure of two police forces, a failure of the mental health trust, along with Nottinghamshire (County) Council as well.

“Missed multiple opportunities to prevent the Nottingham attacks and the murder of our children and Ian Coates is what has led us here today. We have continued to pursue agencies that failed us and hold them responsible for the Nottingham attacks, so that no other family is made to suffer like ours.

“We thank everyone for the outpouring of support for our brave and beautiful daughter, Grace.”

Emma Webber, mother of Barnaby Webber, said, “Today’s ruling comes as no surprise to the families of the Nottingham attack victims. It was inevitable and was not a review of anything other than the letter of the law as it stands.

“Despite the fact that the attorney general herself feels that Valdo Calocane did not receive the appropriate sentence, today’s outcome proves how utterly flawed and under-resourced the criminal justice system in the UK is. It also illustrates the need for urgent reforms in the UK homicide law.

Webber highlighted the broader issue of early releases for those given hospital orders, noting that most are out within a decade. She expressed the families’ resolve to ensure Calocane remains confined, drawing parallels to notorious criminals who were never released.

The families met prime minister Rishi Sunak and said they have not yet secured a commitment to a public inquiry. They want to push for a thorough and cohesive investigation into the failures that led to the attacks, so that other families do not endure similar tragedies.

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