Knifeman who stabbed three to death in Nottingham handed hospital order
Valdo Calocane has been sentenced at Nottingham Crown Court
Judge Mr Justice Turner said Valdo Calocane, 32, would “very probably” be detained in a high security hospital for the rest of his life after “deliberately and mercilessly” stabbing students Barnaby Webber and Grace O’Malley-Kumar, both 19, and school caretaker Ian Coates, 65, in the early hours of June 13 last year.
He told the killer: “You committed a series of atrocities in this city which ended the lives of three people.
“Your sickening crimes both shocked the nation and wrecked the lives of your surviving victims and the families of them all.”
He said the “harrowing” details of the attacks have been “fully recounted and explored” in court over the past days and Calocane sentenced many relatives and friends to “a life of grief and pain”.
The judge told the triple killer: “There was never any doubt that it was you who had committed these appalling crimes.
“It soon became clear however, that the central issue in this case would relate to whether at the time of committing these offences you were suffering from symptoms of severe mental disorder.”
The judge added that the psychiatric evidence did not detract from the “horror” and “disastrous” impact of the offences, but he said, in his view, Calocane’s abnormality of mind had “significantly contributed” to him perpetrating the string of attacks.
Despite being detained in high security Ashworth Hospital since November, Mr Justice Turner said he still “remains dangerous”.
During the three-day hearing, the court heard how Calocane, a mechanical engineering graduate from the University of Nottingham, hid in the shadows in Ilkeston Road at around 4am on June 13 armed with a dagger before beginning his attack on Barnaby and Grace as they walked back to their student accommodation after an end-of-term night out.
Witness evidence read to the court described “an awful, blood curdling scream” as Calocane, dressed all in black, inflicted at least 10 stab wounds on Barnaby and then 23 separate dagger wounds on Grace, who was attacked as she tried to protect her friend from the blows.
Family members in the public gallery sobbed on Tuesday as prosecutor Karim Khalil KC told the court Grace’s injuries were too severe and she collapsed as Barnaby tried to defend himself from the ground, kicking out at his attacker, before Calocane “calmly” walked away.
The killer then walked slowly through the Radford area to Mapperley Park, ringing his brother at 4.52am to say “This will be the last time I speak to you. Take the family out of the country”.
Asked if he was going to do something stupid, Calocane told his brother: “It’s already done.”
Mr Coates was driving his van in nearby Magdala Road and was “lured” from his vehicle before being stabbed 15 times, suffering wounds to his abdomen and chest, at about 5.14am.
Witnesses described hearing “repeated” screaming and someone saying “leave me” before Mr Coates’s body was found by a passer-by at around 5.30am who called the police.
Leaving Mr Coates dying in the street, Calocane stole his van, driving it south onto Woodborough Road, towards the city centre, and at 5.23am was driving south on Milton Street, where pedestrian Wayne Birkett was crossing the road.
The court heard Calocane “deliberately and violently changed the direction” of the van, hitting Mr Birkett and causing him to be “flipped” onto the pavement, leaving him with a fractured skull and a bleed to the brain.
Despite being seen by a marked police car at around 5.29am, which activated its lights, Calocane accelerated away and knocked down Sharon Miller and Marcin Gawronski, who were walking to work across a pedestrian central reservation at a junction of Market Street.
Calocane was arrested after being tasered around five minutes after the final victims were injured, after producing a knife when the van was stopped and boxed in by police vehicles.
A search of his backpack found two other knives and a scaffold pole which prosecutors say was not used in the attacks but served as “back up” should the dagger not be “available” to him.
The court heard Calocane’s “serious” mental illness, which he was not taking his prescribed medication for, meant he would hear voices telling him he needed to kill people or his family would be hurt.
He is also known to have visited MI5’s London headquarters two years before the fatal attack to ask them to stop “controlling him”.
Calocane had previously been detained in hospital four times under mental health laws and was arrested in September 2021 for assaulting a police officer.
Three psychiatrists agreed a hospital order would be the best course of action for Calocane, who believed he was being “interfered with” by “malign forces”, with all of them agreeing in court that the attack would not have happened had he not been in the grip of “severe psychosis”.
Nottinghamshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Rob Griffin said in a statement on Wednesday that the force “should have done more” to arrest Calocane before the fatal attacks of June 13.
In August 2022, Calocane was reported for summons after assaulting a police officer and was due to attend court in September for that assault, but failed to appear and a warrant for his arrest was issued.
“The defendant was never arrested for that warrant which was still outstanding at the point of his arrest in June 2023,” Mr Griffin said.
“I have personally reviewed this matter and we should have done more to arrest him.”
Published: by Radio NewsHub