Nottingham triple killer’s sentence will not be changed, Court of Appeal rules

Nottingham triple killers sentence will not be changed Court of Appeal rules
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The sentence of the Nottingham triple killer will not be changed, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

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Valdo Calocane, 32, was handed a hospital order due to his mental health after he repeatedly stabbed students Barnaby Webber, Grace O’Malley-Kumar and caretaker Ian Coates during a knife rampage in Nottingham last summer.

After pleading guilty to manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility as well as three other attempted murder counts, Calocane, who has treatment-resistant paranoid schizophrenia, was handed an indefinite hospital order to the dismay of his victims’ families.

Following his sentencing in January, the Attorney General referred the case to the Court of Appeal to examine whether it had been “unduly lenient”, given the pre-meditation of the attacks and the 32-year-old’s history of refusing to take medication.

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However, Court of Appeal judges dismissed the bid on Tuesday, stating that while Calocane’s offences caused “unimaginable grief”, his sentence was not unduly lenient as his paranoid schizophrenia was “the sole identified cause of these crimes”.

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Valdo Calocane was handed a hospital order due to his mental health after he stabbed three people to death (PA Media)

Calocane, who attended via a video link from Ashworth high-security hospital near Liverpool, did not react as the three senior judges gave their decision.

Summing up their judgment, the Lady Chief Justice Baroness Carr said: “There was no error in the approach adopted by the judge. The sentences imposed were not arguably unduly lenient.”

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

She concluded: “It is impossible to read of the circumstances of this offending without the greatest possible sympathy for the victims of these terrible attacks, and their family and friends. The victim impact statements paint a graphic picture of the appalling effects of the offender’s conduct.

Parents of Grace O’Malley-Kumar, Dr Sanjoy Kumar and Dr Sinead O’Malley, arrive at the Royal Courts of Justice in central London on Tuesday (Yui Mok/PA Wire)

“Had the offender not suffered the mental condition that he did, the sentencing judge would doubtless have been considering a whole life term. But neither the judge nor this court can ignore the medical evidence as to the offender’s condition which led to these dreadful events or the threat to public safety which the offender continues to pose.”

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

Lawyer Deanna Heer KC, representing the Attorney General’s office, told the court on Wednesday the “extreme” crimes warrant “the imposition of a sentence with a penal element, an element of punishment”.

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In a statement following the appeal court’s decision, Emma Webber, Mr Webber’s mother, said the families “now face their own life sentence of ensuring the monster that is Valdo Calocane” is not released.

Parents of Grace O’Malley-Kumar, Dr Sanjoy Kumar, centre, and Dr Sinead O’Malley, left, speak to the media outside the Royal Courts of Justice in central London on Tuesday (Yui Mok/PA Wire)

Dr Sanjoy Kumar and Dr Sinead O’Malley, the parents of Ms O’Malley-Kumar, attended the Royal Courts of Justice on Tuesday while the relatives of Mr Webber and Mr Coates did not appear.

Ms Webber said: “Despite the fact that the Attorney General herself feels that Valdo Calocane did not receive the appropriate sentence, today’s outcome proves how utterly flawed and under-resourced the criminal justice system in the UK is. It also illustrates the need for urgent reforms in the UK homicide law. The fact remains, despite the words of the judge, that almost 90 per cent of people serving hospital orders are out within 10 years and 98 per cent within 20 years.”

Reiterating the families’ calls for a public inquiry after the series of failures they have endured, she added: “There are many, many more serious questions that the families will now continue to fight to get answered.

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

Barnaby Webber’s family (left to right) father David Webber, mother Emma Webber and brother Charlie Webber, previously arriving at Nottingham Crown Court (PA)

Speaking outside the Royal Courts of Justice on Tuesday, Dr Kumar said: “Missed multiple opportunities to prevent the Nottingham attacks and the murder of our children and Ian Coates is what has led us here today. We have continued to pursue agencies that failed us and hold them responsible for the Nottingham attacks, so that no other family is made to suffer like ours.

“We thank everyone for the outpouring of support for our brave and beautiful daughter, Grace.”

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

Ian Coates son, James, previously making a statement outside Nottingham Crown Court (PA)

Prosecutors accepted his not guilty pleas to murder at his sentencing at Nottingham Crown Court in January after multiple medical experts concluded he had paranoid schizophrenia.

Sentencing judge Mr Justice Turner told Calocane that his “sickening crimes” meant he would be detained indefinitely in a high-security hospital “very probably for the rest of your life”. He also ruled that Calocane should be subject to further restrictions if ever discharged from hospital, which would need to be approved by the Justice Secretary.

While a later 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 killings as “horrific”.



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