Nottingham attack victim's mother 'horrified' at 'abhorrent voyeurism' after police share graphic details of dead son

21 February 2024, 10:34 | Updated: 21 February 2024, 11:24

Mother of Barnaby Webber will 'never forgive' Nottinghamshire Police for 'catastrophic failures'

By Will Taylor

Families of the Nottingham attack victims only found out that police shared graphic details about their loved ones on WhatsApp when it was reported in the media - as they slammed the "abhorrent voyeurism".

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Emma Webber, the mother of Nottingham University student Barnaby, who was stabbed to death by Valdo Calocane in a frenzied knife rampage, told LBC it was "another failing" by the city's force.

She said that while the chief constable of Nottinghamshire Police has apologised, it does not "help with the pain of knowing that people were viewing the bodycam footage of seeing my son in the street" and she would never forgive those involved.

Graphic information about the injuries suffered by Barnaby, his friend and fellow student Grace O'Malley-Kumar, and school caretaker Ian Coates, 65, were shared in a police WhatsApp group.

The messages were forwarded on to people outside of the force, with one officer sending them to his wife and a friend.

Ms Webber told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast that the first the family heard about it was in the press.

"We were not told, they did not formally advise the families of these breaches of data, and/or of the misconduct period," she said.

Emma Webber said she was sickened to see police shared details about her son's injuries
Emma Webber said she was sickened to see police shared details about her son's injuries. Picture: Alamy

"We found out about it through the media and that in itself is very wrong.

"We are horrified and sickened to know that police officers, or police personnel, would think it's appropriate to do anything like that.

Read more: Nottingham triple-killer Valdo Calocane to have sentence reviewed for being 'unduly lenient'

"I think the words we've used is 'abhorrent voyeurism' and I would ask the people who did look at that and share that to take a look at themselves, their own family…. how would they feel?

"The police have finally given us details yesterday, because we'd asked the chief constable [Kate Meynell], and we got a letter last night containing details because we've had lots of varying versions of it. It's just another failing by Nottinghamshire Police."

Grace was killed as she tried to save her friend Barnaby
Grace was killed as she tried to save her friend Barnaby. Picture: Handout

One officer, PC Matthew Gell, was given a final warning, while another got a "management intervention".

Deputy Chief Constable Steve Cooper said their words "were crude and distasteful".

Ms Webber told Nick: "We've had an apology for us not being informed in advance and then we had the detail of how seriously they take this, and officers are specially trained, and ya ya ya, and lessons will be learned.

"But that doesn't really help with the pain of knowing that people were viewing the bodycam footage of seeing my son in the street.

Read more: Nottingham triple-killing families 'sickened' by cops sharing gruesome details of attacks over WhatsApp

Barnaby and Ian Coates were killed by Calocane
Barnaby and Ian Coates were killed by Calocane. Picture: Alamy

"I will never forgive them for that. But there are other matters we have to address at the moment."

Barnaby was stabbed to death by Calocane, a paranoid schizophrenic, early on June 13 2023.

Grace, his friend, was killed as she bravely tried to intervene to save him.

Calocane then attacked and killed Mr Coates before taking his van to drive at pedestrians, seriously injuring them, before he was trapped and Tasered.

Calocane's sentence was condemned by the families
Calocane's sentence was condemned by the families. Picture: Police

Calocane believed that voices in his head were real and had travelled to MI5 in London in the hope they would stop them.

The families are furious that his mental health led to him being given a hospital order instead of a jail term after prosecutors accepted lesser charges of manslaughter as opposed to murder.

They say his sentence is unduly lenient.

Calocane's case has now been referred to the Court of Appeal. Attorney general Victoria Prentis has asked judges to decide if he should go to jail if he were ever discharged from hospital.

"He's a murderer... he's mentally ill but he's a murderer and he must be punished for his crimes," Ms Webber said.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct is investigating the force's contact with Calocane before the killings.

Complaints were made to the watchdog at previous contact its officers had with him, and the handling of the investigation after the attack.