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Police failed to arrest Nottingham killer for alleged attack on two people weeks before stabbing rampage

It has also emerged Calocane could be eligible to appeal for release at least every three years

Tara Cobham,Andy Gregory
Friday 26 January 2024 21:36 GMT
Starmer backs calls for public inquiry into Nottingham attacks

Police failed to arrest Nottingham triple killer Valdo Calocane for allegedly attacking two people just weeks before he launched a horrifying knife rampage.

It has also emerged that Calocane, 32, could be eligible to appeal for release at least every three years under the terms of his sentence, to which it is understood that his victims’ families would be alerted.

Calocane stabbed students Grace O’Malley-Kumar and Barnaby Webber, both aged 19, and 65-year-old school caretaker Ian Coates to death on 13 June last year.

A series of failures from police meant the killer was free to carry out his murderous attack (PA)

Less than six weeks earlier, on 5 May, the 32-year-old allegedly assaulted two employees at the warehouse where he was working in Kegworth, Leicestershire – but The Independent understands he was not arrested over the incident.

It emerges as the latest in a series of failures that meant the killer was free to carry out his murderous attack, coming after Mr Webber’s mother Emma Webber accused police of having “blood on your hands” and Sir Keir Starmer on Friday called for a public inquiry, saying it is the “least these families are owed”.

Leicestershire Police responded to reports that two people had been assaulted at the warehouse on Wilders Way shortly after 6pm, but said it was reported Calocane had been escorted from the site by security staff before officers arrived.

The company that owns the warehouse, Arvato, said the site manager called police when Calocane – who was employed via an agency to work there for a week – assaulted two colleagues after an argument erupted.

Calocane stabbed students Grace O’Malley-Kumar (right) and Barnaby Webber (centre), both aged 19, and 65-year-old school caretaker Ian Coates (left) to death on 13 June last year (PA)

The force confirmed it was investigating the incident when Calocane was arrested by Nottinghamshire Police following his monstrous triple murder in Nottingham on 13 June. It said: “He was questioned about the incident in Kegworth by officers from Nottinghamshire Police on our behalf. It is our understanding that no further action was taken.”

At the time of the fatal stabbings, as well as the alleged assaults at the warehouse, Calocane was on the run after he had allegedly assaulted a police officer in September 2021. After failing to attend court over the assault, a warrant was issued for his arrest the following September.

Calocane, who has paranoid schizophrenia, was indefinitely hospitalised on Thursday after his pleas to three counts of manslaughter by diminished responsibility were accepted earlier this week following his denial of murder.

Under Section 37 of the Mental Health Act, a tribunal has the power to discharge patients if doctors deem them to have recovered.

Emma Webber, mother of Barnaby Webber says ‘true justice has not been served’ (PA)

While Calocane is also subject to a Section 41 order, which means that the relevant secretary of state or a first-tier tribunal can still block his release from a high-security hospital on public safety grounds, the judge did not impose an order which would have seen Calocane released only to a prison.

However, the court was told that Calocane’s paranoid schizophrenia was “untreatable”, and Mr Justice Turner said in his sentencing remarks that the killer would be detained in a high-security hospital “very probably for the rest of your life”.

Attorney general Victoria Prentis is considering whether judges should review Calocane’s sentence after receiving a submission that it could be unduly lenient.

In an emotional speech outside Nottingham Crown Court following the sentencing, Ms Webber said “true justice has not been served”, as Calocane was handed the hospital order and not jailed.

Ian Coates’ son, James, making a statement alongside relatives of the victims, outside Nottingham Crown Court following the sentencing (PA)

Ms Webber, whose son was a student at the University of Nottingham alongside his friend Ms O’Malley-Kumar, went on to accuse the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) of not consulting with families over bringing manslaughter charges instead of murder charges.

Directing her anger towards Nottinghamshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Rob Griffin, the distraught mother said: “If you had just done your job properly, there’s a very good chance my beautiful boy would be alive today.”

Mr Griffin admitted in a statement on Wednesday that the force “should have done more” to arrest Calocane before the fatal attacks.

Questioning decisions made by doctors over the handling of Calocane’s mental health, Ms Webber added: “Why was there no mental health assessment during his time in custody? Why was it the first time he had any assessment in mid-July for the defence report only? Why did he not begin to receive treatment till mid-September?”

Tributes left to the victims of the attacks in June last year (PA)

Calocane had a history of mental health issues, yet was not under close supervision despite being “unlawfully at large”.

Since 2020, he had experienced psychotic delusions in which he believed he was being targeted by “malign forces” and had travelled to MI5 to plead for them to arrest him.

He repeatedly evaded contact with the community mental health team, was known to stop taking his medication and had been arrested over the assault of the police officer.

Yet by 13 June last year, he had been “unmedicated and out of touch with psychiatric services for almost 12 months” and was in the grip of severe psychosis.

The moment the triple Nottingham killer was arrested by armed police (Nottinghamshire Police)

The son of Ian Coates, James, also called for the services and organisations involved to be made accountable for failings in the case. He said: “The failures from the police, the CPS, the health service have resulted in the murder of my father and these two innocent students.”

A CPS spokesperson said it held meetings with the victims’ families before and after the plea hearing in November and informed them of the final decision in December.

They added: “Our thoughts and sympathies are with the families of the victims at this incredibly difficult time. Engagement with those who have been left bereaved is one of our highest priorities and in all cases we continue to liaise with victims’ families throughout the legal process.”

An NHS Midlands spokesperson said: “Our thoughts and condolences are with the victims and their families involved in this tragic case.

“The NHS regional team is commissioning an independent investigation into the case to ensure lessons are learnt by all the agencies involved and to ensure appropriate action is taken – this work will sit alongside the Trust’s own internal investigation.”

The Independent has approached Nottinghamshire Police for further comment.

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