- Valdo Calocane, 32, was sentenced to likely spend the rest of his life in a high-security medical facility for fatally stabbing two college students and a school janitor in Nottingham, England.
- Doctors say Calocane felt controlled by external influences and posed a danger to his family if he didn’t obey voices in his head.
- Judge Mark Turner sentenced him to likely spend his life in Ashworth Hospital rather than prison.
A 32-year-old man with paranoid schizophrenia who fatally stabbed two college students and a man just months away from retirement in the city of Nottingham, in central England, was told Thursday that he would “most probably” spend the rest of his life in a high-security medical facility.
The sentencing of Valdo Calocane followed three days of hearings in which family members of the victims, including those of three people he deliberately tried to run over in a van stolen from one of the victims soon after his killing spree, condemned him as “evil.”
Bereaved families slammed the verdict, local mental health services and the whole legal process, arguing that Calocane should have been tried for murder, rather than for manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility as a result of his mental illness.
Doctors had argued that Calacone felt he was being controlled by external influences and that his family were in danger if he didn’t obey the voices in his head. As a result, prosecutors concluded “after very careful analysis of the evidence” that he could forward a defense for manslaughter.
In his sentencing, Judge Mark Turner said Calocane, who had been on the radar of authorities for years and was wanted by police at the time of the attack, had “deliberately and mercilessly” stabbed students Barnaby Webber and Grace O’Malley-Kumar, both 19, and school caretaker Ian Coates, 65, in the early hours of June 13 last year.
Satisfied that Calocane was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, the judge said the killer would “very probably” spend the rest of his life detained in high-security Ashworth Hospital in Liverpool, where he has been since November, rather than prison.
“Your sickening crimes both shocked the nation and wrecked the lives of your surviving victims and the families of them all,” he added.
Calocane repeatedly stabbed Webber and O’Malley-Kumar as they walked home around dawn after celebrating the end of exams at the University of Nottingham, where they had both excelled, particularly on the sports field.
A short while later, Calocane encountered school caretaker Coates, who was five months shy of retirement, and stabbed him and stole his van. He then ran down three people in the streets before he was stopped by police and Tasered.
Prosecutors decided not to seek a trial on murder charges after accepting Calocane’s guilty plea to manslaughter on the basis of diminished responsibility. Doctors said he suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and was in a state of psychosis.
Calocane, who had formerly been a student at the university, did admit to three counts of attempted murder relating to the pedestrians he deliberately targeted with the van he had stolen from Coates.
At the time of his rampage, Calocane was wanted on a warrant for failing to appear in court for assaulting an officer nine months earlier, on one of several occasions when police had taken him to a mental hospital.
At the doorsteps of the courthouse surrounded by friends of the victims, Barnaby’s mother, Emma Webber, said police had “blood on their hands” and that there was “a very good chance our beautiful boy would be alive today” if they had done their job “properly.”
She also criticized prosecutors, arguing that the families had been railroaded last November into accepting their decision to not try Calocone for murder.
“At no point during the previous five-and-a-half-months were we given any indication that this could conclude in anything other than murder,” she said. “We trusted in our system, foolishly as it turns out.”
She said the bereaved did not dispute the fact that Calocane had been “mentally unwell” for years but that the “pre-mediated planning, the collection of lethal weapons, hiding in the shadows and brutality of the attacks are that of an individual who knew exactly what he was doing. He knew entirely that it was wrong but he did it anyway.”
The son of Ian Coates, James Coates, also slammed the verdict as well as how Calocane was able to enter a plea of manslaughter.
“This man has made a mockery of the system and he has got away with murder,” he said outside the courthouse.