News Writer Grace Fynn reports on Nottingham assailant denying murder charge for three victims

Written by Grace Fynn

Trigger warnings for this article include: manslaughter and murder. 

A man has denied murder but has pleaded guilty to manslaughter following the death of three people in the horrific attacks in Nottingham on the 13th of June. 

Valdo Calocane, 32, denied the murder charges involving students Barnaby Webber and Grace O’Malley-Kumar, both 19 years old, and caretaker Ian Coates. Instead, he pleaded guilty to manslaughter and attempting to murder three others. Calocane’s barrister, Peter Joyce KC, told the court that his plea of manslaughter was based on the grounds of diminished responsibility. 

…he pleaded guilty to manslaughter and attempting to murder three others

Grace O’Malley-Kumar and Barnaby Webber, both students at the University of Nottingham, were known for their academic excellence and sports talents. They were fatally stabbed by Calocane on their way home from a night out. Ian Coates, 65, a well-loved school caretaker at Nottingham’s Huntingdon Academy was also killed in the early hours of the morning. Calocane then allegedly stole Coates’ van, which he then used to hit three pedestrians-Wayne Birkett, Marcin Gawronski and Sharon Miller-all injured on Milton Street and Upper Parliament Street. 

The suspect, Valdo Calocane, also goes by Adam Mendes. Calocane, a former university engineering student, was arrested on the day of the attacks after abandoning a van and approaching officers with a knife.  

Speaking to ITV, the family of Mr. Webber expressed their ‘complete devastation’ at his loss, describing Baraby as a  ‘beautiful, brilliant, bright young man’. Mr. Webber, a ‘talented and passionate cricketer’  had been ‘over the moon’ to be chosen for the university’s cricket team. His home cricket team, Bishops Hull Cricket Club in Taunton, asked people to lay flowers at the ground in the days following the attack. 

The family of Grace O’Malley-Kumar remembered her as ‘a truly wonderful and beautiful young lady’. Grace had been studying medicine at the University of Nottingham and played for England Hockey. The Southgate Hockey Club, her home team, described her as a ‘huge talent and much-loved member’ of the club’s U18 and W1s teams. 

Mr. Coates was remembered by his two sons, James and Lee, who encouraged people to wear red to the June vigil in honour of Mr. Coates’ beloved Nottingham Forest. At the vigil, James said of his father, ‘it feels like he’s touched a lot of hearts over the years more than what we assumed and knew that he had’.  

The prosecutor, Karim Khali KC, has stated that the crown will need to consider whether these pleas are acceptable or not. The case has currently been adjourned until 16th of January 2024.

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