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Nottingham killer’s sentence referred to Court of Appeal by Attorney General

Valdo Calocane (Nottinghamshire Police/PA)
Valdo Calocane (Nottinghamshire Police/PA)

The families of Nottingham triple killer Valdo Calocane’s victims said they are “very glad” his sentence will be reviewed as they expressed hope the courts will answer their calls for justice.

Attorney General Victoria Prentis confirmed on Tuesday she will refer the sentence to the Court of Appeal for reconsideration after concluding it was “unduly lenient”.

Calocane was sentenced to an indefinite hospital order last month for stabbing to death university students Barnaby Webber, 19, and Grace O’Malley-Kumar, 19, and school caretaker Ian Coates, 65, in the early hours of June 13 last year.

He admitted manslaughter by diminished responsibility and also pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of three people who were hit by a van stolen from Mr Coates after Nottingham Crown Court heard he had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

Relatives of his victims reacted angrily to the sentencing after prosecutors decided not to pursue murder charges.

In a statement, the loved ones of Mr Webber, Miss O’Malley-Kumar and Mr Coates said: “We were very glad to hear that the Attorney General has agreed with us that the sentencing given to Valdo Calocane, who so viciously and calculatedly killed our loved ones, was wrong.

“We are optimistic that when this reaches the Royal Courts of Justice for its appeal there will be an outcome that provides some of the appropriate justice that we have been calling for.”

According to the families, the Attorney General’s decision was based on “insufficient investigation” into Calocane’s culpability, the minimum term not taking into account the “planning” and “pre-meditation” of the attacks and that a hospital order was “insufficient” and should have carried an additional “penal” element under mental health laws – which could see him spend some time in jail for his crimes if he was ever deemed suitable for discharge from hospital.

Ms Prentis said Calocane’s crimes were “horrific” and have “shocked” the nation as she praised the victims’ loved ones for showing “immeasurable strength during this devastating time”.

“This was a case that evoked strong feelings amongst so many people and it was no surprise that I received so many referrals under the unduly lenient sentence scheme to consider the hospital order handed to Calocane”, she said.

Having received “detailed legal advice” and considering the issues raised “very carefully”, Ms Prentis added: “I have concluded that the sentence imposed against Calocane, for the offences of manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility and attempted murder, was unduly lenient and will be referred to the Court of Appeal.”

The Attorney General’s Office would not say how many requests it had received for the sentence to be reviewed but stressed only one referral needs to be made for cases to be considered.

The families stressed this was “just one part of the tragic failures in this case” as probes into the actions of police, prosecutors and mental health staff continue and they reiterated calls for “serious failures” to be “fully addressed”.

“Organisational and individual accountability must be taken and where relevant, proper change made”, their statement added.

The comments come as the CPS watchdog widened the scope of its review to look at any interactions Calocane had with prosecutors – and not just those surrounding the attacks – after the independent probe was ordered by Ms Prentis. The findings from His Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Inspectorate (HMCPSI) are due to be published on March 25.

Police watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has launched investigations into contacts Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire officers had with Calocane.

Health Secretary Victoria Atkins has asked healthcare watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to carry out a review into Nottinghamshire Healthcare Foundation Trust, which provided care to Calocane, with the findings also expected next month.

Downing Street previously said the Government had not ruled out launching a public inquiry to consider claims of missed opportunities to stop Calocane before the killings amid calls for a wider investigation, but so far one has not been announced.