Nottingham attacks suspect comes from 'friendly, hard working and devout' Christian family

16 June 2023, 07:14

Three people died in the Nottingham attacks
Three people died in the Nottingham attacks. Picture: ITV/Handout/Social media

By Will Taylor

The Nottingham attacks suspect comes from a hard working and devoutly Christian family.

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Valdo Calocane has been named as the man police arrested on suspicion of murder after three people were stabbed throughout the city early on Tuesday.

It has since emerged he was a former University of Nottingham student who came to the UK in 2007 with his parents, who are from Guinea-Bissau in West Africa.

His father Amissao was working on Madeira, the Portuguese island, and gained citizenship there before moving to the UK.

The 55-year-old brought his wife and three children with him and they settled as EU citizens.

Read more: 'Hold no hate in your hearts': Nottingham victims' families pay tribute to loved ones as thousands gather at vigil

The family lived in Haverfordwest in Wales. There, they regularly attended church while Amissao worked as a carer and Calocane's mother Celeste worked as a nurse at Withyshaw Hospital.

Hazel Vaughan, the wife of Calvary Church, said the family was "amazing" and "lovely".

A suspect has been arrested by police
A suspect has been arrested by police. Picture: ITV

Their children were known as being bright and successful while at school in the area. Calocane's younger brother went on to study computer science at Cambridge while his sister is considered gifted.

A neighbour, Marlene Raymond, 55, told the Daily Mail: "I can picture the eldest boy now in his school uniform. He was very smart and handsome.

"He was very bright, all three children are - they are a nice family and have been lovely neighbours for over 15 years."

Read more: 'There weren't many like him': friend of Nottingham stabbing victim Ian Coates pays tribute to 'pillar of the community'

Three people died in the Nottingham attacks. Ian Coates, a 66-year-old caretaker, was killed and his van was stolen before it was driven into pedestrians in the city centre.

Earlier, University of Nottingham students Barnaby Webber and Grace Kumar were stabbed to death in the street.

Calocane, who was still being questioned by police, was a mechanical engineering student at the same university.

He graduated in 2022 and his attendance but the university link is not thought to be relevant to the investigation.

Grace and Barnaby were killed in the attacks
Grace and Barnaby were killed in the attacks. Picture: Social media

He had lived not far from Ilkestone Road, where Barnaby and Grace were attacked.

A former housemate told the Daily Mail: "He seemed like a normal guy, I didn't know him too well but he didn't do drugs or drink much.

"He came from Guinea originally but had been in the UK for some time.

"What he did tell me was that he struggled with his mental health. He said he heard and saw things that weren't there.

"I lived with him for a year in 2020. He was studying for a masters in mechanical engineering.

"We lost contact but I think he graduated last year and was still living in Nottingham."

A spokesperson for Nottinghamshire Police said on Thursday: "A team of dedicated detectives is continuing to question the suspect and building up a strong picture of what happened that morning.

Ian Coates was the third victim
Ian Coates was the third victim. Picture: Handout

"This has included CCTV gathering, forensics, eye-witness accounts and searching a number of properties in the city."

It emerged on Wednesday that the suspect was known to MI5 because he turned up to the agency's London headquarters and tried to get in.

He was told to move on and his name was taken down when he arrived at Thames House and knocked on the door in August last year.

His name is understood to have come up as spies searched for any information about the suspect.

The mother of one of the victims of the Nottingham stabbing attack urged thousands at a vigil to "hold no hate in your hearts", as local leaders encouraged residents not to be intimidated by the violence.

Barnaby's mother Emma said her cricket-loving son was "so proud" of his brother.

She told the crowd: "Please hold no hate to any race, colour, sex or religion in your heart... My beautiful boy - you have my, your dad and your brother's heart forever."