• Saturday, March 02, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

Tributes paid to Grace O’Malley-Kumar who died protecting friend from killer

Grace, 19, was stabbed to death in Nottingham, in June last year

Grace O’Malley-Kumar (L) with her family

By: Pramod Thomas

TRIBUTES have been paid to British Indian medical student, Grace O’Malley-Kumar, 19, who was stabbed to death in Nottingham, in June last year.

Her parents and brother said their family’s lives had been “shattered in a moment” following the tragic incident.

Grace ‘heroically and valiantly’ fought that attacker while protecting her friend Barnaby Webber, her father, Dr Sanjoy Kumar said.

A judge on Thursday (25) ordered that Valdo Calocane, 32, who killed Grace and two others, should be detained indefinitely in a high-security hospital. He had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

Calocane killed university students, Barnaby Webber and Grace, and 65-year-old Ian Coates, before driving into three other people with a van.

At court, Dr Kumar praised his daughter as a courageous individual who chose not to escape.

He told the attacker that she courageously stepped in, emphasising her steadfast commitment to standing by her friends in difficult times, as it was an integral part of her character.

“She heroically and valiantly fought you. Like a hero she put herself in harm’s way. But unfortunately because of the weapon you carried she stood no chance,” he was quoted as saying.

“You showed yourself to be a cold, cowardly and calculating killer. You casually walked away, leaving my child lying in the street.”

Following the sentencing, Dr Kumar, said his daughter would be disappointed with the way the case had concluded.

“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, was quoted as saying.

He added, “She exerted maximum effort to rescue her friend, and unfortunately, it led to Grace losing her life in a vulnerable situation. Her unwavering commitment to never abandon a friend was evident in her final moments. She passed fighting.”

Her mother, Sinead O’Malley advocated for compulsory prison sentences for individuals found with knives.

She said Calocane’s ‘disgusting cowardice’ diminished in comparison to ‘the unmatched heroism’ displayed by Grace.

She said: “I’m so proud of the person she was. She was a wonderful friend. She always stood up for her friends and she paid the ultimate price with her life. I remain immensely proud of her bravery.”

Families of the victims also slammed the police following the verdict, adding that ‘true justice has not been served’.

Nottingham Police admitted this week that it “should have done more” to arrest Calocane before the attacks in the wake of an alleged assault on a police officer.

Webber’s mother Emma said that “true justice has not been served”, and claimed that prosecutors had “railroaded” families over accepting the manslaughter plea, rather than murder.

She also said Nottinghamshire Police had “blood on your hands”.

“If you had just done your jobs properly, there’s a very good chance my beautiful boy would be alive today,” she said.

“There is so much more to say and clearly serious questions regarding this case and events leading up to this monster being out in society.”

The families of Grace and Webber have established foundations in their memory to ensure a lasting legacy. They have initiated online appeals to support causes that were important to the students.

Grace was the first ladies’ county cricketer in school and pushed the boundaries of ladies’ cricket at Bancroft’s School, according to her foundation website.

She represented England at U16 and U18s hockey and later played in the premiership for Nottingham University ladies first team and in her first year. She was also part of the British Universities and Colleges Sport 2023 Gold medal winning team.

The BBC on Friday (26) reported that the Attorney General is contemplating whether judges should reevaluate the sentencing of Calocane.

A referral received by the Attorney General’s office contends that the sentence for manslaughter, coupled with an indefinite hospital order, was excessively lenient.

Additionally, NHS England will conduct an investigation into his interactions with mental health services.

(with inputs from agencies)

Eastern Eye

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