Nottingham triple-killer’s manslaughter plea over stabbings of students and caretaker accepted

The families of students Barnaby Webber and Grace O’Malley-Kumar and caretaker Ian Coates were all consulted by the prosecution

Holly Evans
Tuesday 23 January 2024 12:54 GMT
Nottingham attacks: What we know so far

A triple-killer responsible for the Nottingham stabbings which led to the deaths of two students and a school caretaker has had his pleas of guilty to manslaughter accepted on the grounds of diminished responsibility due to “serious” mental illness.

Prosecutor Karim Khalil KC told Nottingham Crown Court on Tuesday that the families of university students Barnaby Webber and Grace O’Malley-Kumar, both 19, and school caretaker Ian Coates, 65, had been consulted before deciding to accept the pleas entered by Valdo Calocane, 32.

Calocane, who answered to the name Adam Mendes in court, will no longer face a murder trial after admitting the manslaughter charges during a previous hearing.

He also admitted attempting to murder three pedestrians who were hit by a van in the city centre, which he had stolen from Mr Coates on June 13 last year.

Valdo Calocane’s pleas of manslaughter have been accepted by the prosecution (Nottinghamshire Police/PA Wire)

Calocane’s deadly rampage began at 4am when he fatally knifed Miss O’Malley-Kumar and Mr Webber, who were studying medicine and history at the University of Nottingham respectively, on Ilkeston Road as they were walking home from a night out.

Family members sobbed in the public gallery as they heard that Mr Webber was stabbed “repeatedly” with a dagger, inflicting “grave injuries” and causing him to fall to the floor.

Showing “incredible bravery”, Miss O’Malley-Kumar had tried to protect Barnaby, fighting him off and pushing him into the road, but the killer then turned his attention to her and was “as uncompromisingly brutal in his assault of Grace as he was in his assault of Barnaby”.

Her injuries were too severe and she collapsed to the ground, while Mr Webber attempted to defend himself from the ground, kicking out at his attacker, before their killer “calmly” walked away.

Barnaby Webber (second left) with his father David, mother Emma and brother Charlie Webber (Family handout/PA) (PA Media)

Calocane then made his way from the scene of the initial double killing to a residential hostel in Mapperley Road, Nottingham, where he arrived at about 5am.

At 5.04am he sought to gain access to the premises through ground floor windows, but “retreated” after being confronted by an occupant who punched him in the face.

Mr Coates was driving a Vauxhall van in nearby Magdala Road and was repeatedly stabbed, suffering wounds to his abdomen and chest, at about 5.14am.

The devoted Nottingham Forest FC fan was found unresponsive by members of the public a short while later and was pronounced dead.

His van had been stolen, which Calocane then used to drive into three pedestrians, Wayne Birkett, Marcin Gawronski and Sharon Miller, in Milton Street and South Sherwood Street.

Grace O’Malley-Kumar was described as an ‘beautiful young lady’ by her family (PA)

They were hospitalised but survived the attack, with Calocane arrested a short while later.

Mr Khalil KC told the court that three psychiatrists had assessed Calocane, concluding that despite suffering paranoid schizophrenia he would have understood the nature of his conduct in attacking three of his victims with a dagger described in court as “a double-edged fighting knife”.

The prosecutor said: “We have also consulted with the families of the deceased.

“We considered carefully representations made in the course of those consultations; we also considered the particular gravity and complexity of this case, including that which we submit are the grossly aggravating factors of the multiplicity of fatal and intended fatal offending.

“In these circumstances, the Crown concluded that it was appropriate to accept the pleas to manslaughter on the basis of diminished responsibility.

Floral tributes left at Nottingham Council House in the wake of the stabbings (Getty Images)

“For the avoidance of any possible doubt, it is the Crown’s position that the appalling facts of this case render it to be one of the utmost seriousness.”

Following their deaths, several vigils were held at both the University of Nottingham and in the town centre, with former home secretary Suella Braverman visiting the city to pay her respects.

The family of Ms O’Malley-Kumar described her as a talented hockey player and cricketer, and said she was a “truly wonderful and beautiful young lady”.

During a funeral attended by hundreds in his home town in Somerset, Mr Webber’s mother Emma told the congregation: “Until I lost [him], I don’t think I really knew how much I loved, and boy, did I love that boy. More than words can ever, ever convey.”

Calocane, who appeared in the dock wearing a dark suit and light blue shirt, now faces a sentencing hearing expected to last for around two days.

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