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Thousands gather for city centre vigil in memory of trio killed in rampage

The gathering in the city’s Market Square heard emotional tributes from friends and colleagues of the trio.

Josh Payne
Thursday 15 June 2023 18:50 BST
Members of the public at a vigil in Old Market Square, Nottingham (Tim Goode/PA)
Members of the public at a vigil in Old Market Square, Nottingham (Tim Goode/PA) (PA Wire)

Thousands have gathered in Nottingham city centre to pay their respects to two students and a school caretaker killed in a knife and van rampage.

A vigil in the city’s Market Square heard emotional tributes from friends and colleagues of the trio, who were stabbed to death in the early hours of Tuesday.

Students Grace O’Malley-Kumar and Barnaby Webber, both 19, were found dead in Ilkeston Road at about 4am.

Caretaker Ian Coates, 65, described by his sons as “everyone’s friend”, was then found dead in Magdala Road after his van was allegedly stolen by the suspect.

Crowds engaged in a minute’s silence in memory of the three victims, as heart-shaped balloons with the words “choose love” were held by one woman near the stage.Barnaby Webber’s mother, Emma, asked those gathered at the vigil held partly in memory of her son to “hold no hate”.

She said the “monstrous individual” responsible for the deaths in the city on Tuesday “will not define us”.

“I know he will receive the retribution that he deserves,” she said. “However this evil person is just that. He is just a person.

“Please hold no hate that relates to any colour, sex or religion.”

Mr Coates’ son James promised support to the families of Ms O’Malley-Kumar and Mr Webber.Addressing the families, he said: “Obviously they are going through the same thing that we are, anything they need from us we’re happy to support you.”He thanked everybody for the “kind words” that have poured in about his father.“It feels like he’s touched a lot of hearts over the years, more than what we assumed and knew that he had, so it’s been really nice and heartwarming to see the messages and people come out and talk about how he was when they were younger and how he’s helped them,” he added. “Some beautiful comments.”

The gathering also heard tributes from Ross Middleton, headteacher of Mr Coates’s school, and Professor Shearer West, vice-chancellor of the University of Nottingham, where Ms O’Malley-Kumar and Mr Webber were studying.

Paying tribute to Mr Coates, Mr Middleton said he was “full of fun with a mischievous glint in his eye”.

He said: “We will all remember him with great affection.

“Rest in peace, Ian, and, of course, I’ll keep an eye on Forest results for you.”

Professor West said: “All three of these lives were cut short in the most unimaginable way on Tuesday morning, their well-earned retirement plans and bright futures brutally curtailed by a seemingly random act of violence.

“At the university, we held our own vigil yesterday with Barney and Grace’s families to remember them and mourn their loss.

“I was overwhelmed by the love and support that was offered to the families by more than 2,000 students and staff, who gathered together as a community.

“Although seemingly unconnected to these dreadful acts, we are still in the university trying to process the information that the suspect in custody was a former student.”

Before the vigil, Home Secretary Suella Braverman visited Nottingham to pay her respects to the victims by laying a wreath with a handwritten message to their families saying: “We are with you.”

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