The Attorney General is considering a review of the sentence given to murderer Valdo Calocane, who fatally stabbed students Barnaby Webber and Grace O’Malley-Kumar, as well as school caretaker Ian Coates, last June. The 32-year-old was given an indefinite hospital order after admitting to the killings in Nottingham. The Attorney General’s office has received a referral suggesting the sentence was too lenient.
During the sentencing at Nottingham Crown Court, Mr Justice Turner stated that Calocane would likely be detained in a high-security hospital for life, after he admitted manslaughter due to diminished responsibility. Calocane, who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia before the attacks, also pleaded guilty to three counts of attempted murder.
On 13 June, University of Nottingham students Mr Webber and Ms O’Malley-Kumar, both 19, were fatally stabbed in Ilkeston Road. Mr Coates, 65, was found dead with knife injuries after his van was stolen. Pedestrians Wayne Birkett, Marcin Gawronski and Sharon Miller were then targeted in the city centre.
The judge acknowledged the severity of Calocane’s mental disorder but emphasized that it did not lessen the horror and disastrous impact of his crimes. He believed Calocane’s mental abnormality significantly contributed to his actions.
Emma Webber, mother of Mr Webber, criticized the Crown Prosecution Service’s decision to downgrade the charge from murder and accused Nottinghamshire Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Rob Griffin of negligence for failing to detain Calocane after an arrest warrant was issued in September 2022.
Following the sentencing, a spokesman for Attorney General Victoria Prentis confirmed her office had received a referral suggesting the sentence was too lenient. Law officers now have 28 days to review the case and determine whether to refer it to the Court of Appeal.
Under the Unduly Lenient Sentence Scheme, any crown court sentence can be reviewed if it is deemed too short. In 2022, almost 1,200 cases were reviewed, with 139 reconsidered by the Court of Appeal and 95 people receiving longer sentences.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak expressed his condolences to the victims’ families and agreed with the decision to detain Calocane in a high-security hospital for life. However, he did not comment on whether a public inquiry into the case would be ordered.