Nottingham attack victim’s mother condemns police who said son was ‘properly butchered’ in shocking Whatsapps

Emma Webber called the messages ‘callous, degrading and desensitised’ after they referred to her son being ‘properly butchered’

Holly Evans
Wednesday 24 April 2024 09:08 BST
Nottingham attack victim's mother 'disappointed' after watchdog verdict

The mother of one of the Nottingham attack victims has condemned police who described her son as being “properly butchered” in shocking Whatsapp messages.

The families of Barnaby Webber and Grace O’Malley-Kumar, who were killed alongside caretaker Ian Coates last summer, have spoken of their trauma after a police officer sent “barbaric” messages from the crime scene.

Barnaby Webber, Grace O’Malley-Kumar and Ian Coates were stabbed to death last June (Nottinghamshire Police/PA)
Barnaby Webber, Grace O’Malley-Kumar and Ian Coates were stabbed to death last June (Nottinghamshire Police/PA) (PA Media)

In a Whatsapp message referring to the deaths of the two students, the officer said emergency responders had ‘tried to hold their innards in’ after they were stabbed repeatedly on 13 June 2023.

Valdo Calocane, a paranoid schizophrenic who had been neglecting his medication, attacked the two 19-year-olds as they walked back from a night out, before going on to kill 65-year-old caretaker Ian Coates.

Emma Webber has penned an open letter to the officers involved
Emma Webber has penned an open letter to the officers involved (BBC News)

While responding to the incident, an office messaged colleagues: “So 2 students on Ilkeston road have been proper butchered, 4 section [officers] turned up and tried to hold their inners in. Suspects then made off and attacked a man in a car on magdala [road] and stabbed him to death.”

Emma Webber, Barnaby’s mother, has penned an open letter to members of the Whatsapp group after the families request to meet the officers were rejected.

“The callous, degrading and desensitised manner of your comments have caused more trauma than you can imagine,” she wrote.

“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
James Coates, son of Ian Coates, Emma Webber, mother of Barnaby Webber and Dr Sanjoy Kumar, father of Grace O’Malley-Kumar (PA Wire)

She also called for tougher action for the officer involved. The officer did not face a misconduct hearing but received management intervention, while a second officer, PC Gell, was found guilty of gross misconduct after he forwarded the message to his wife and friends.

He was also given a final written warning after he searched for records relating to Calocane despite playing no part in the investigation.

“Anyone who can witness the details of such a horror as happened... and refer to lost children as butchered animals; should seriously consider their position,” Mrs Webber said.

“So, to the author of that message, who we understand has received a management warning. 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.”

Ms Webber described the messages as ‘callous and degrading’ (Jacob King/PA).
Ms Webber described the messages as ‘callous and degrading’ (Jacob King/PA). (PA Wire)

Meanwhile, Grace’s father Dr Sanjoy Kumar said the message is “so disgusting” and said it brought him to tears everytime.

“Why have police in Nottinghamshire forgotten that these are our dear and beloved children they are referring to? I have tears in my eyes every time the message echoes in my head,” said Dr Kumar.

“The message is as barbaric as the crime for me.”

As well as those involved in the Whatsapp messages, a special constable was also sacked for viewing body-worn footage of the two students as they were dying, while almost 180 staff members were found to have viewed material relating to the case.

Nottinghamshire Police has referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct after the families raised a number of concerns, including their failure to inform them that officers were being investigated.

Valdo Calocane was handed an indefinite hospital order
Valdo Calocane was handed an indefinite hospital order (PA)

The College of Policing is also conducting a review of how the force handled the case.

A spokesman for Nottinghamshire Police said: “A member of police staff has been dismissed following a gross misconduct hearing on April 5 for the misuse of force systems and breaching data protection by accessing information relating to recent homicide investigations.

“The investigation showed that the police staff member used police systems to research the offender, Valdo Calocane.

“There was no evidence that she viewed body-worn video or CCTV in relation to the case.

“All hearings relating to police staff misconduct are held in private. It would be inappropriate to comment further due to the ongoing independent investigation by the IOPC and the review by the College of Policing.”

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in