Nottingham attacks killer Valdo Calocane should be imprisoned for life, court hears

Valdo Calocane
Valdo Calocane -Credit:PA Media

Nottingham attacks killer Valdo Calocane should be imprisoned for life, a top court has heard. Calocane, 32, stabbed three people to death and tried to kill three others with a van in Nottingham on June 13 last year.

Paranoid schizophrenic Calocane was sentenced for the killings of students Barnaby Webber and Grace O'Malley Kumar, both 19, and school caretaker Ian Coates, 65, on January 25 at Nottingham Crown Court after admitting manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. Attorney General Victoria Prentis, who is the government's chief legal adviser, concluded Calocane's previous sentence of an indefinite hospital order was "unduly lenient" in February.

On Wednesday, May 8, three appeal judges heard arguments from legal teams representing the attorney general and Calocane's barrister at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. While Deanna Heer KC, representing the Attorney General's Office, asked judges to consider whether imprisonment was needed, while Calocane's defence counsel Peter Joyce KC stated this would effectively be further punishing him for being severely mentally ill.

Deanna Heer KC, representing the Attorney General's Office, said: "The harm caused and risk of harm risked to the public is extreme. Therefore the court is invited to consider whether a penal element was required and whether the sentencing judge erred."

Ms Heer said there was no criticism of Mr Justice Turner’s conduct, but argued a “penal element” was needed due to the severity of Calocane’s crimes. The judge had opted against imposed a hybrid order earlier this year, which would have would have seen Calocane treated in a hospital and then later serve time in prison.

James Coates, son of Ian Coates,  Emma Webber, mother of Barnaby Webber and Dr Sanjoy Kumar, father of Grace O'Malley-Kumar in London
James Coates, Emma Webber, and Dr Sanjoy Kumar continue to fight for justice for the family they lost in the Nottingham attacks -Credit:PA

Ms Heer questioned whether there was a sound reason for departing from the “usual case” of a sentence with an imprisonment. "His culpability was not extinguished by his mental impairment. He knew what he was doing.”

However, Peter Joyce KC, defending Calocane, said: "Any planning took place under the influence of the psychosis. In this particular case, this particular man, had been suffered from paranoid schizophrenia from 2019, it was formally diagnosed in 2020.

“There was no concoction - this was a man that until he was stricken by this dreadful condition - this was a hard working man who had put himself through university. If not for this condition he would not have committed any of these offences."

Peter Joyce KC claimed Calocane was bordering on no responsibility through insanity, adding: "He is to be punished for being mentally ill, and that is wrong."

Valdo Calocane appeared in the courtroom via video link, prompting some family members of his victims to turn in their courtroom seats to look at his expressionless face. Dressed in a dark blue jacket and a brown hoodie, he raised his hand to confirm his identity to the court but otherwise was largely motionless.

The Lady Chief Justice, Baroness Carr, said the judgement of the three appeal judges would be reserved until a later date. "We recognise how distressing this case if for all concerned," Baroness Carr said, before adding she hoped the court's judgement would be handed down within seven days.