Nottingham triple killer Valdo Calocane detained in high-security hospital 'for life' after knife and van rampage

25 January 2024, 12:06 | Updated: 25 January 2024, 13:19

Calocane has been jailed for life for the triple killings
Calocane has been jailed for life for the triple killings. Picture: Police/Social media

By Will Taylor

Nottingham triple killer Valdo Calocane has been given a hospital order for unleashing a knife and van rampage.

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The 32-year-old had paranoid schizophrenia as he hacked university student Barnaby Webber to death and killed Grace O'Malley-Kumar as she tried to defend her friend.

He also stabbed a school caretaker Ian Coates, 65, to death early on June 13 before driving his victim's van into three people in an attempt to kill them.

He was sentenced at Nottingham Crown Court on Thursday and will be sent to Ashworth secure hospital - and could not say when he will ever be safe to the public.

Read more: No plans to jail first-time knife offenders despite desperate pleas of Nottingham attack victim's family

The judge, Mr Justice Turner, told him: "Your sickening crimes both shocked the nation and wrecked the lives of your surviving victims and the families of them all."

He told Calocane: "But for the voices inside your head ... you had no reason to harm any of them. You still labour under the strong impression that the voices are real.

"You were and remain dangerous."

He added that putting him in jail would risk him rejecting medication.

But relatives of Barnaby and Mr Coates criticised the sentence.

Calocane, of no fixed address, had admitted three manslaughter charges by reason of diminished responsibility, as well as three counts of attempted murder for the van victims.

Barnaby, 19, was attacked by Calocane just down the road from his student residence.

Barnaby Webber was stabbed to death by Calocane
Barnaby Webber was stabbed to death by Calocane. Picture: Handout

During Calocane's sentencing hearing, Barnaby's father David told him: "Your despicable, murderous actions are not reparable in this or any other lifetime.

"Your evil, vicious, selfish, unforgivable actions have caused damage that will never be repaired."

Read more: Final moments of Nottingham knife victims revealed as CCTV footage shows killer stalking streets ‘for hours’

He added: "Barnaby was a vibrant, loving boy who was growing into a man and starting to live his best life.

"As a father I dreaded him leaving home (to go to university) but I loved my visits to see him; he always had a smile to welcome me.

"Due to your unbelievably savage actions I will never get that again."

Grace, a medicine student, tried to intervene and push him away and has since been called a hero for trying to save her pal. The judge said she would have been an exemplary practitioner had her life not been cut short.

Her brother James, 17, said: "Grace's last moments were in pain and that's something that really hurts me to think about and she was a hero, that was her character.

"She tried her best to save her friend. That was how Grace lost her life in the most vulnerable manner.

"She would never leave a friend, never, and that was very evident from her last moments. She passed fighting."

Calocane, who wielded a double edged fighting knife, attacked her and she fell next to Barnaby. Calocane went back to attack him before calmly walking off.

Grace was killed as she bravely tried to save Barnaby
Grace was killed as she bravely tried to save Barnaby. Picture: Handout
Ian Coates was killed before his van was stolen for Calocane to ram into pedestrians
Ian Coates was killed before his van was stolen for Calocane to ram into pedestrians. Picture: Police

The attack was caught on a taxi's dashcam.

"That footage shows that the devastating violence of the attacks was mirrored only by the deliberate and merciless way the defendant acted," prosecutor Karim Khalil said previously.

He was then seeing trying to get into a homeless hostel to attack those inside but he was fought off by an occupant.

Read more: Harrowing 999 call from desperate passer-by after Nottingham triple killer Valdo Calocane stabbed students to death

After retreating, he attacked Mr Coates, stabbing him to death, then took his van to search for more victims.

Calocane swerved to hit Wayne Birkett, a random pedestrian who suffered life-changing injuries, including brain damage that leaves even basic tasks and his personality has changed, having lost interest in his social life and football.

He lives in constant pain and believes it would have been better for all if he had died.

Calocane has been given a hospital order
Calocane has been given a hospital order. Picture: Police

The killer then drove at two other pedestrians, Marcin Gawronski and Sharon Miller, who were "extremely lucky to survive". Ms Miller is still worried about going out.

After being boxed in by the police, he pulled out his knife and only dropped it when officers Tasered him.

The judge said Calocane had sentenced the victims families to a lifetime of "grief and pain".

He said the killer was "clearly an intelligent man" who studied mechanical engineering at Nottingham University but he later developed mental health issues, feeling his flatmates and intelligence services were spying on him.

He heard voices he believed were controlling him and he went to MI5 in the belief they could stop them.

Families including Barnaby's father David and Emma have spoken of their grief
Families including Barnaby's father David and Emma have spoken of their grief. Picture: Alamy

He stopped taking his medication, believing the voices were real, and tried to break other flats. He attacked an officer when he was set to undergo a mental health assessment.

One psychiatrist, who assessed Calocane ahead of the sentencing, said he was "divorced from reality" while another said he was not "insane" at the time of the attacks but his rational judgement and self control was heavily affected.

Calocane also attacked employees during a warehouse job during a time when he seemed to improve, for which he was sacked.

He held no relevant political, religious or ideological convictions. He came to the UK in 2007, when he was 16, having moved from Guinea-Bissau to Madeira, Portugal, when he was young.

Calocane refers to himself as Adam Mendes.

He still believes the voices are real and does not think he is mentally ill, the judge said.

Speaking after the case, Barnaby's family said "true justice has not been served today".

"We as a devastated family have been let down by multiple agency failings and ineffectiveness," Barnaby's mother Emma said.

"The CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) did not consult us as has been reported - instead we have been rushed, hastened and railroaded.

"We were presented with a fait accompli that the decision had been made to accept manslaughter charges.

"At no point during the previous five-and-a-half-months were we given any indication that this could conclude in anything other than murder.

"We trusted in our system, foolishly as it turns out.

"We do not dispute that the murderer is mentally unwell and has been for a number of years.

"However the pre-mediated planning, the collection of lethal weapons, hiding in the shadows and brutality of the attacks are that of an individual who knew exactly what he was doing. He knew entirely that it was wrong but he did it anyway."

Ian Coates' son James said: "This man has made a mockery of the system and he has got away with murder.

"NHS mental health trusts have to be held accountable for their failures, along with the police."

The Crown Prosecution Service's Janine McKinney said: "These were savage, ferocious attacks against entirely innocent people who had no way of defending themselves.

"His pleas to manslaughter were only accepted after very careful analysis of the evidence.

"We reached this conclusion because the expert medical evidence was overwhelming; namely that his actions were substantially impaired by psychosis resulting from paranoid schizophrenia."

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