CPS, police and NHS under fire as families say Nottingham killer should have been stopped

Father of Grace O'Malley-Kumar addresses the media with other relatives outside Nottingham Crown Court
Dr Sanjoy Kumar, father of Grace O'Malley-Kumar, makes a statement to the media outside Nottingham Crown Court - Jacob King/PA

The families of Valdo Calocane’s three victims have criticised the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), police and the NHS over missed opportunities to stop the killer.

University students Barnaby Webber, Grace O’Malley-Kumar, both aged 19, and school caretaker Ian Coates, 65, were stabbed to death by Calocane in Nottingham on June 13 last year.

Calocane, 32, a paranoid schizophrenic, is expected to spend the rest of his life in a secure hospital after a judge accepted his plea for manslaughter on the basis of diminished responsibility.

Standing outside Nottingham Crown Court, Emma Webber, Barnaby’s mother, said a senior police officer had “blood on his hands” after he admitted the force “should have done more” to arrest Calocane before he launched his rampage.

Nottingham Police disclosed on Wednesday that a warrant for Calocane’s arrest for an assault on a police officer had been in place for nine months before the attacks.

The victims, left to right, Ian Coates, Grace O'Malley-Kumar, Barnaby Webber
The victims, left to right, Ian Coates, Grace O'Malley-Kumar, Barnaby Webber

She also claimed the families had been “rushed, hastened and railroaded” into accepting the CPS’s decision to accept Calocane’s plea of manslaughter not murder.

Dr Sanjoy Kumar, Grace’s father, said they will continue to interrogate the “missed opportunities” where Calocane’s “horrendous crime” could have been averted.

James Coates, Ian’s son, demanded the NHS mental health trusts who had monitored Calocane’s psychotic episodes be “held accountable for their failures along with the police.” Calocane stole Ian Coates’ van and later used it to run down pedestrians Wayne Birkett, Marcin Gawronski and Sharon Miller. Police later said it was a “miracle” the trio survived .

Police

Police failed to arrest Calocane for nine months when he was wanted on a warrant for the alleged assault of a police officer before the fatal attacks on June 13.

Nottinghamshire Police had issued a warrant for his arrest in September 2022 after he failed to appear in court in connection with an assault on an officer who was taking him to hospital for mental health treatment.

But officers failed to track him down and make the arrest, leaving Calocane free to kill his three victims. Asst Chief Constable Rob Griffin admitted the shortcomings of the force in not arresting Calocane sooner. In a statement issued on Wednesday, Mr Griffin said: “I have personally reviewed this matter and we should have done more to arrest him.

“However, because of the circumstances prevailing, at the time of the alleged assault, in my opinion, it is highly unlikely that he would have received a custodial sentence.

“Of course, an arrest might have triggered a route back into mental health services, but as we have seen from his previous encounters with those services, it seems unlikely that he would have engaged in this process.”

His admission drew condemnation from the families of Calocane’s victims.

Directly addressing Mr Griffin, Mrs Webber said: “You have blood on your hands.

Prosecutors accepted Calocane's pleas of not guilty to murder and guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility due to mental illness
The killer, Valdo Calocane - Nottinghamshire Police/PA Wire

“If you had just done your jobs properly there’s a very good chance my beautiful boy would be alive today.”

She said it took “repeated questioning” of the police to find out the details of Calocane’s outstanding arrest warrant.

Mrs Webber said her family have “grave concerns” surrounding parts of the investigation and asked why the police supposedly said Calocane was a “sofa surfer and had no true abode”.

“That’s not true. He did,” she said. “One that was registered in his name in Nottingham, and one that he had been in for about six months prior to his eviction on the 11th of June last year.”

Mr Coates said: “The failures from the police, the CPS, the health service have resulted in the murder of my father and these two innocent students.”

In a video released by Nottingham Police after Calocane’s sentencing, Mr Griffin said the attacks were “the most dreadful event that we have experienced in Nottinghamshire”.

“The events of June 13 will never be forgotten by Nottinghamshire and all those people that have been affected,” he said.
“And the victims in this case will forever last in our memories - Barnaby, Grace, Ian, Wayne, Sharon and Marcin.”

CPS

Mrs Webber claimed the family were “railroaded” by prosecutors into accepting the triple killer’s manslaughter plea, after he was sentenced to an indefinite hospital order.

Calocane, a paranoid schizophrenic, was sentenced after pleading guilty to manslaughter on the basis of diminished responsibility.

He also admitted three charges of attempted murder after stealing Mr Coates’ van and driving it at three pedestrians. 
The CPS has defended its decision to accept the manslaughter pleas, saying the overwhelming evidence found Calocane’s actions were “substantially impaired by psychosis resulting from paranoid schizophrenia”.

However Mrs Webber said the first meeting with the CPS was on Nov 24, more than five months after the attacks, and that they were given no prior indication the conviction would be anything else but murder.

She said Calocane’s premeditated planning, collection of knives and “brutality” of the attacks clearly showed he knew “exactly what he was doing”.

“He knew entirely that it was wrong but he did it anyway,” she said.

“Justice has not been served today. We as a devastated family have been let down by multiple agency failings in effectiveness. The CPS did not consult with us, as has been reported. Instead, we’ve been rushed, hastened and railroaded.”

Mr Coates also criticised prosecutors over the decision to accept the manslaughter plea, saying the law had been watered down. “The letter of the law was once considered the most important rule to live and abide by, put upon us to make the country a fairer and safer place,” he said.

“Now it’s just a cautionary tale where a calculated, cold brutal killing spree can be reduced down to something that falls within the same sentence and restrictions and guidelines as that of death by dangerous driving.”

The CPS defended its decision, saying the pleas were only accepted after “very careful analysis of the evidence”.

Janine McKinney, from the CPS, said: “We reached this conclusion because the expert medical evidence was overwhelming; namely that his actions were substantially impaired by psychosis resulting from paranoid schizophrenia.

“During this lengthy and complex sentencing exercise, the prosecution’s case has been that Calocane was criminally responsible for what he did, as well as being impaired by his mental health.”

NHS

Calocane was formally diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in July 2020, shortly after the first Covid lockdown ended.
During a number of psychotic episodes he was in regular contact with mental health services, but stopped taking his prescribed treatment and frequently refused to engage with the professionals trying to help him.

Calocane, who had come to believe that he was being spied on by his housemates and by MI6 and that his family was under threat, was initially detained at Nottingham’s Highbury Hospital in May 2020, when he was treated with antipsychotic medication.

He was discharged on June 17 to the care of the Nottingham City Crisis Team, before being readmitted after trying to force his way into his flat and another address when he stopped taking his medication.

This became a regular pattern over the following months, with Calocane being released from hospital and going on to behave erratically.

In several cases he was violent, including the assault on a police officer transporting him to Highbury Hospital in September 2021 and physical confrontations with his flatmates.

In mid-January 2022, an assessment under the Mental Health Act concluded that he could continue to be treated in the community.

But the court heard that Calocane failed again to engage adequately with the Home Treatment Team and did not collect his medication.

Mr Coates questioned why NHS trusts had not taken stronger action to contain Calocane or made more effort to intervene.
“The failures from the police, the CPS, the health service have resulted in the murder of my father and these two innocent students,” he said.

“The NHS mental health trusts have to be held accountable for their failures along with the police.”

Dr Kumar said his family had never questioned Calocane’s diagnosis but asked why there was no earlier intervention.

“The lack of toxicology, contemporaneous mental health assessment, as well as missed opportunities to divert his lethal path, will forever play on our minds and this requires further review,” he said.

“We will look for answers regarding missed opportunities to intervene and prevent this horrendous crime.”

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