Families of victims of Nottingham triple killer slam ‘completely flawed’ justice system as sentencing bid fails

The families of the Nottingham killer’s victims said they “now face their own life sentence to ensure the monster is never set free” after the Court of Appeal ruled the sentence would not be commuted.

Loved ones of students Barnaby Webber, Grace O’Malley-Kumar and carer Ian Coates hit out at the “completely flawed” justice system after Tuesday’s ruling as their hopes for a tougher sentence were dashed.

Valdo Calocane, 32, repeatedly stabbed the three victims during a knife attack in Nottingham last summer. After pleading guilty to manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility, as well as three other charges of attempted murder, Calocane, who suffers from treatment-resistant paranoid schizophrenia, was ordered to remain in hospital indefinitely, much to the dismay of his victims’ families.

Following his conviction in January, the Attorney General referred the case to the Court of Appeal to examine whether it was “overly lenient” given the premeditation of the attacks and the 32-year-old’s history of refusing to take medication.

However, judges rejected the request on Tuesday, saying that while Calocane’s crimes caused “unimaginable pain”, his sentence was not unduly lenient as his paranoid schizophrenia was “the only identified cause of these crimes”. .

Ian Coates, Barnaby Webber and Grace O’Malley-Kumar were murdered in Nottingham last summer (Nottinghamshire Police/PA)

In a statement following the appeal court’s decision, Emma Webber, Barnaby’s mother, said: “Today’s decision comes as no surprise to the families of the victims of the Nottingham attack. It was inevitable and was not a review of anything other than the letter of the law as it stands.

“Despite the fact that the Attorney General herself believes that Valdo Calocane did not receive an appropriate sentence, today’s result demonstrates how flawed and under-resourced the UK criminal justice system is. It also illustrates the need for urgent reforms to UK homicide law.

“The fact remains, despite the judge’s words, that almost 90 per cent of people serving hospital orders are gone within 10 years and 98 per cent within 20 years. In fact, the families are now facing their own life imprisonment to ensure that the monster that is Valdo Calocane becomes the next Ian Brady or Fred West and is never released.”

Valdo Calocane has received a hospital order due to his mental health after stabbing three people to death (BYE)

She continued: “There are many, many more serious questions that families will now continue to struggle to answer.

“We do not and will never agree that the vicious, calculated and planned attacks carried out were those of an individual who was at zero capacity.

“I have never disputed that he is mentally ill; however, he knew what he was doing, he knew it was wrong, but he did it anyway. There should be an element of punishment for such a heinous act along with appropriate treatment.

“This is just one part of the fight for justice and adequate accountability for the failures that families have been forced to endure. So far, there have been no less than eight individual reports, reviews and investigations.

“We do not believe there is any chance that these are sufficiently cohesive to ensure a full and detailed outcome and therefore call for a public inquiry.”

Barnaby’s father (left to right) David Webber, mother Emma Webber and brother Charlie Webber were among relatives hoping for a harsher sentence. (BYE)

Calocane, who attended via video link from the high-security Ashworth hospital near Liverpool, did not react when the three senior judges delivered their decision on Tuesday.

Summarizing their judgment, Lady Chief Justice Baroness Carr said: “There was no error in the approach taken by the judge. The punishments imposed were certainly not unduly lenient.”

Describing Calocane as “in the grip of a severe psychotic episode” at the time of the attack, she quoted experts as saying: “He was entirely driven by the psychotic process.”

She concluded: “It is impossible to read about the circumstances of this crime without the greatest possible sympathy for the victims of these terrible attacks, their family and friends. Victim impact statements paint a graphic picture of the horrific effects of the offender’s behaviour.

“Had the offender not suffered the mental condition he did, the sentencing judge would undoubtedly have considered a life sentence. But neither the judge nor this court can ignore the medical evidence regarding the offender’s condition that led to these horrific events or the threat to public safety that the offender continues to pose.”

Grace’s parents Dr Sanjoy Kumar and Dr Sinead O’Malley arrive at the Royal Courts of Justice in central London on Tuesday (BYE)

Lawyers argued at last Wednesday’s hearing that Calocane should receive a life sentence as part of a “hybrid” order, meaning he will be treated in hospital before serving the rest of his sentence in prison.

Advocate Deanna Heer KC, representing the Attorney-General, told the court on Wednesday that the “extreme” offenses warranted “the imposition of a sentence with a criminal element, a punitive element”.

Speaking outside the Royal Courts of Justice on Tuesday, Dr Sanjoy Kumar, O’Malley-Kumar’s father, said: “We missed several opportunities to prevent the Nottingham attacks and the killing of our children and Ian Coates is what – drove here today. . We continued to pursue the agencies that failed us and hold them accountable for the Nottingham attacks so that no other family suffers like ours.

“Thank you to everyone for the outpouring of support for our brave and beautiful daughter Grace.”

Dr Kumar and Dr O’Malley, left, said there were several missed opportunities to prevent the attack (BYE)

Calocane fatally stabbed O’Malley-Kumar and Webber, both 19, as they walked home from a night out in the early hours of June 13 last year, before killing Coates and if you stole the van. He then used the vehicle to knock down three pedestrians, Wayne Birkett, Marcin Gawronski and Sharon Miller, in Nottingham city center before being arrested.

Prosecutors accepted his pleas of not guilty to manslaughter at his sentencing at Nottingham Crown Court in January after several medical experts concluded he suffered from paranoid schizophrenia.

Ian Coates’ son James with the families of the other victims (BYE)

Sentencing judge Mr Justice Turner told Calocane his “outrageous crimes” meant he would be held indefinitely in a high-security hospital “quite possibly for the rest of his life”. He also ruled that Calocane should be subject to additional restrictions if he is ever released from hospital, which would have to be approved by the justice secretary.

While further review found that prosecutors were right to accept Calocane’s pleas, Attorney General Victoria Prentis referred the sentence to the Court of Appeal, describing the crimes as “horrific”.