Killers and domestic abusers face tougher sentences as Tories pledge overhaul of homicide laws

6 June 2024, 06:04 | Updated: 6 June 2024, 06:06

Barnaby Webber and Grace O'Malley-Kumar and Ian Coates died at the scene of the attacks
Barnaby Webber and Grace O'Malley-Kumar and Ian Coates died at the scene of the attacks. Picture: Handout

By Emma Soteriou

Killers and domestic abusers will face tougher sentences as part of an overhaul of homicide laws if the Conservatives win the General Election, Rishi Sunak is set to pledge.

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The minimum sentence for murders that take place in the home will increase from 15 years to 25 years under the party's proposals, it is understood.

It comes after Rishi Sunak spoke to the families of Barnaby Webber, Grace O'Malley-Kumar and Ian Coates, who were fatally stabbed in Nottingham last June.

The proposals would result in a US-style tiered system with first and second degree murder, according to the Times.

First degree murder would apply to those with intention to kill, resulting in an automatic life sentence - similar to current laws.

Second degree murder would apply to cases where the offender intended to do serious injury, which would cover some cases of manslaughter.

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Valdo Calocane
Valdo Calocane. Picture: Nottinghamshire Police

Valdo Calocane fatally stabbed students Mr Webber and Ms O'Malley-Kumar, both 19, as they walked home from a night out in the early hours of June 13 last year.

He then killed 65-year-old Mr Coates and stole his van, using it to knock down three pedestrians in the city centre before being arrested.

Prosecutors accepted his not guilty pleas to murder at his sentencing at Nottingham Crown Court in January, after several medical experts concluded he had paranoid schizophrenia.

Grace O'Malley-Kumar
Grace O'Malley-Kumar. Picture: Alamy

Sentencing judge Mr Justice Turner told Calocane that his "sickening crimes" meant he would be detained indefinitely in a high-security hospital "very probably for the rest of your life".

He also ruled that Calocane should be subject to further restrictions if ever discharged from hospital.

Under the Conservative proposals, Calocane would have been charged with second degree murder.

Speaking to The Times, Dr Sanjoy Kumar, the father of Ms O'Malley-Kumar, said: "It would be a seismic, important change."

Emma Webber, the mother of Mr Webber, said the issue crossed the political divide and must be addressed urgently.

Diminished responsibility is the “easy option” taken by the CPS, she said.

Barnaby Webber
Barnaby Webber. Picture: Handout

A senior Conservative Party source told the paper: “The killing of three innocent people by Valdo Calocane horrified the nation and the sentence he received entirely failed to deliver him the punishment he deserved.

"That’s why we will review sentencing for homicide to give the public reassurance that vile criminals like him can be put behind bars.”

Labour's shadow justice secretary, Shabana Mahmood, said: "The Conservatives have been in power for 14 years. Proposing this reform as a last-ditch attempt to look tough is cynical and transparent.

"Rishi Sunak wants to sound tough on domestic abusers, but he needs to urgently answer how he let the prisons crisis get so bad that he has been forced to release a high-risk domestic abuser that was deemed to be a threat to children.

"These are proposals from a man who has sat on his hands, first as chancellor and then as Prime Minister, while our criminal justice system has crumbled and victims have been failed.

"Labour has long been committed to look at inconsistencies in sentencing. We will do this as part of our work to get a grip on the prisons crisis, get the courts moving and get victims justice.

"We will restore the criminal justice system back to the standard of performance that victims and the public expect."

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