Rishi Sunak backs campaign for Nottingham attack victim Grace O'Malley-Kumar to be given George Cross

1 May 2024, 22:45 | Updated: 1 May 2024, 22:48

The Prime Minister has backed the campaign
The Prime Minister has backed the campaign. Picture: Getty/Alamy

By Flaminia Luck

Rishi Sunak has thrown his weight behind a campaign for student Grace O'Malley-Kumar to be awarded a posthumous George Cross.

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The 19-year-old medical student was stabbed to death by Valdo Calocane while trying to protect her friend Barnaby Webber - who was also 19.

During Calocane's trial, Nottingham Crown Court was told of the "incredible bravery" she had shown in the face of a "brutal" attack.

Calocane, 32, was given an indefinite hospital order after admitting manslaughter by diminished responsibility, after the court heard he had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

Grace's parents suggested she should be given the country's highest award for peacetime bravery by the King.

Grace was only 19 when she was killed
Grace was only 19 when she was killed. Picture: Alamy

Her mother Sinead O'Malley told The Sun: "The George Cross would be a remarkable acknowledgement of her bravery, for sure.

"Grace is never coming back to us, but we never want her to be forgotten, and this would certainly make sure she is remembered for ever.

Read more: Former Met police officer who carried out 13 rapes and told one victim he was "the devil" jailed for life

"Our hope is it would help her be remembered as the wonderful person that she was, and not just for the horrendous fate she suffered."

Her father Dr Sanjoy Kumar said: "The bravery she showed was incredible for a young girl. The accolade would be an example to every other young person."

Ian Coates, Barnaby Webber and Grace O'Malley-Kumar died in the attacks
Ian Coates, Barnaby Webber and Grace O'Malley-Kumar died in the attacks. Picture: Alamy

Downing Street said Mr Sunak supported the call.

"I think the Prime Minister would certainly want to get behind nominations and he'd pay tribute to the bravery that Grace demonstrated whilst faced with perilous and terrifying circumstances," the Prime Minister's official spokesman said.

"Decisions around the George Cross are made by an independent committee to review, and final decisions are then made by His Majesty the King.

"But of course, the Prime Minister would support those nominations."

The spokesman added: "The leadership example she provided in that tragic circumstance was commendable and absolutely the PM would get behind that campaign."

Read more: Man charged with murder of 14-year-old Daniel Anjorin in Hainault sword attack

At Nottingham Crown Court in January, prosecutor Karim Khalil KC said Ms O'Malley-Kumar demonstrated "incredible bravery" by trying to protect Mr Webber from Calocane's blows and tried to fight him off, pushing him away and into the road.

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", Mr Khalil said.

Calocane also killed school caretaker Ian Coates, 65, during the attacks in the early hours of June 13 last year.

The family of Grace O'Malley-Kumar arriving at outside Nottingham Crown Court
The family of Grace O'Malley-Kumar arriving at outside Nottingham Crown Court. Picture: Alamy

Review to be ordered into Nottingham attacker’s manslaughter conviction

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