Nottingham stabbing victim Grace O’Malley Kumar’s devastated family have revealed how the hockey player ‘tried her best to save her friend’ before she was knifed by triple-killer Valdo Calocane.
The engineering graduate stabbed Grace, fellow University of Nottingham student Barnaby Webber – both 19 – and school caretaker Ian Coates, 65, during the city-wide rampage last summer.
The paranoid schizophrenic pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to manslaughter. He also admitted attempting to murder three pedestrians who were hit by a van on June 13.
A judge was told three psychiatrists had assessed triple-killer Calocane and jointly concluded that he was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia at the time of the offences. Prosecutor Karim Khalil said the experts concluded the condition ‘resulted in an abnormality of mental function… and an inability to exercise full control.’
Calocane, who appeared in the dock wearing a dark suit and light blue shirt, now faces a sentencing hearing expected to last for around two days.
Speaking to Sky News, Grace’s grief-stricken brother James revealed: ‘Her last moments were in pain and that’s something that really hurts me to think about. And she was a hero, that was her character.
‘She tried her best to save her friend. It was just simply her character and it’s very important that people hear that she tried her best to save her friend as a nineteen-year-old girl. She tried her best and that’s who Grace was.’
Nottingham stabbing victim Grace O’Malley Kumar’s devastated family (pictured) have said she ‘tried her best to save her friend’ before she was knifed by triple-killer Valdo Calocane
Grace’s brother James told Sky News that ‘her last moments were in pain and that’s something that really hurts me to think about’
A judge was told three psychiatrists had assessed Valdo Calocane (pictured) and jointly concluded that he was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia at the time of the offences
Grace O’Malley-Kumar, a hockey player from Woodford in London, was described by her family as being ‘loved endlessly by all’ and ‘resilient and wise beyond her years’
Barnaby Webber, from Taunton in Somerset, was a keen cricketer and ‘an extraordinary ‘ordinary’ person’, his family said
Two of Ian Coates’ sons said his death had ‘rocked everyone’s world’
Choking back tears, James said: ‘Her smile. It was so contagious and I really miss it and knowing that I’ll never see that again is something that really hurts me.
‘She was such a joyous person to be around. Her laughter, her excitement – she had such an unmatched just zest for life.
‘She was so perfect. I miss everything – that sounds so cliched but I truly miss everything about her.’
Grace’s devastated father Dr Sanjoy Kumar said: ‘The love of our life has been taken away from us. Music from my ears has been taken away. Our landscape has turned from vivid colour to black and white.
Holding back tears, Dr Kumar added: ‘It’s been a brutal journey since June, I don’t think my poor wife has slept a night and It’s been a very sad time.’
James continued: ‘I have found myself completely lost since the 13th. I haven’t had my best friend to go to. I haven’t had an older sister to call. She hasn’t been there to pick up the phone to me.
‘All I can do now to take any comfort in the slightest is I sleep with her University hockey top on my pillow. And I wear her clothes, that’s how I try to connect with Grace. I have her earring in now.’
Asked whether he could forgive Calocane for killing his sister, James said: ‘No. I will never forgive him.’
Khalil told Nottingham Crown Court today Calocane’s pleas to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility were ‘accepted’, although he said it remained the Crown’s position that the ‘appalling facts of this case render it to be of the utmost seriousness’.
He added that the families of university students Mr Webber, Miss O’Malley-Kumar and school caretaker Mr Coates had been consulted before the prosecution decided to accept the pleas entered by Calocane.
Calocane – who now goes by the name Adam Mendes – has denied the murder of Miss O’Malley-Kumar, Mr Webber and Mr Coates on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
Calocane was convinced he was controlled by MI5 and had been in and out of a mental hospital ever since he was diagnosed nearly three years before his killing spree – leaving the authorities with questions to answer about why the loner wasn’t dealt with sooner.
A former flatmate on the university campus described Calocane as a ‘ticking timebomb’ – and the Mail can reveal he was left free to roam the streets after the authorities missed a string of opportunities to stop him.
The killer has a four-year history of mental issues – which spiralled during lockdown – triggering a spate of alarming incidents which brought him to the attention of the university, police and healthcare professionals.
Unstable Calocane was at the centre of at least four incidents in Nottingham before his bloody spree, which began when he repeatedly knifed first year undergraduates Barnaby and Grace as they walked home from a nightclub.
In the first incident just weeks after the first national coronavirus lockdown was imposed in the spring of 2020, a source told the Mail Calocane followed a female student to her accommodation and threatened her – leaving her so terrified she jumped out of a window to escape him.
The young woman needed surgery as a result of the plunge, after which the university is understood to have made efforts to get Calocane mental health care. Calocane is believed to have spent around a month receiving hospital treatment around that time.
In a further incident in July 2020, Calocane is said to have broken into a neighbour’s flat and threatened the occupants. Police were called and it is understood the future killer ended up being detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act until the end of that month.
Calocane was detained under the same Act in November 2021 and then again the following January. On the latter occasion, police were called after the ‘sinister’ student trapped a flatmate in their shared kitchen – having first grabbed him in a headlock and fractured his finger during a row over a dirty shower.
Officers took Calocane away and later told his flatmates the mature student had been sectioned.
One of the students who shared the accommodation with Calocane told MailOnline: ‘Looking back, I think he was a ticking timebomb and he was going to explode some time.’
Valdo Calocane in a court sketch dated November 2023
The parents of Barnaby Webber arrive at court
Dr Sanjoy Kumar, the father of victim Grace O’Malley-Kumar, along with Grace’s mother Sinead arrive at court today alongside her bother James
‘I feel lucky that I wasn’t in the blast zone, but (feel) so awful for those people who were’.
It is not known how long Colocane was detained in hospital, but a source said he stopped engaging with health services soon after.
Within a few months of the incident in the flat, Calocane was caught attempting to break into the same ground-floor property – just a two minute walk from the spot where Barnaby and Grace fell.
The flatmate said: ‘We were visited by the complex security people who told us they had caught Valdo trying to break into our block on the ground floor and he appeared to have something under his jacket.’
Calocane’s former flatmates were warned by university accommodation officials to keep their door locked, but it is not clear what action, if any, was taken against Calocane at that point.
Barnaby, from Taunton, Somerset, and Grace, who were both 19, were found critically injured just yards away from the accommodation block, in Ilkeston Road at 4am.
Horrific audio of the attack from another camera further down the street captured Grace screaming for over a minute before the medical student fell silent.
A nearby resident told the Mail that Grace, from Woodford Green, northeast London, ‘died a hero’ – and spurned the opportunity to run away when Calocane approached from behind and began stabbing Mr Webber.
The resident said her home’s CCTV captured the attack in footage handed over to police. She stressed how instead of running away, Grace ‘tried to get the man off her friend. She tried to save the boy.’
Shortly afterwards, bearded and hooded Calocane – dressed all in black – was caught on camera trying to break into a bedroom window at a hostel for the homeless in Alexandra Park, a mile-and-a-half away.
Resident Trevor Proverb, 59, told how he fended Calocane off with a ‘right-hook’ after he jumped on to the window ledge and ‘opened the top window as though he was going to try and come in.’
Moments later, school caretaker Mr Coates was brutally stabbed to death nearby after being ambushed as he drove to work. He had been due to retire just a few months later.
Calocane stole Mr Coates’ Vauxhall Vivaro van and used it to mow down Wayne Birkett, Marcin Gawronski and Sharon Miller at a bus stop in the city centre before he was eventually stopped in a city street by police and arrested.
At a previous court hearing, Peter Joyce KC, defending, said Calocane ‘does not dispute the physical acts of any of the prosecution’s case. ‘Though he committed these dreadful acts, he did this while he was suffering from extreme mental illness.’
The barrister added: ‘He has long thought he was being controlled by sonic matter from MI5.’
Fowers laid by the family and friends of Barnaby Webber, including his father David Webber at the scene on Ilkeston Road in Nottingham
Calocane later admitted to their manslaughter on the basis of diminished responsibility at a hearing at Nottingham Crown Court (pictured) in November
It emerged following the killings that Calocane had turned up at MI5’s headquarters in August 2022 and banged on the door demanding to be let in. He was reportedly ‘moved on’ by security personnel after his name was logged.
Calocane has no previous convictions, though he had been facing a charge of assaulting a police officer in relation to an earlier incident. The case was discontinued late last year.
Another former housemate in Nottingham, who lived in the same flat as Calocane for much of 2020, said the killer ‘seemed like a normal guy’ back then – but admitted grappling with his mental health.
‘I didn’t know him too well but he didn’t so drugs or drink much’, the former student said.
‘He said he heard and saw things that weren’t there.
‘I didn’t talk to him much. When he wasn’t at college he was at work, but he never told me where he worked.’
He was born in Guinnea-Bissau, his family moved to Madeira when he was about 3yrs old and then to Lisbon in Portugal when he was about 8yrs old, from where they came to the UK in 2007.
Reverend Adrian Vaughan, minister at the church, said Calocane stopped going to the church and moved away from Pembrokeshire while still in his teens. He never returned to the church.
Rev Vaughan added: ‘We knew he’d gone astray a little bit after moving away, possibly getting involved with the wrong sort of people.
‘But Valdo is clever, the whole family are.’
Rev Vaughan said the pandemic ‘impacted him in a very bad way’, adding: ‘He nosedived into depression and was on very strong anti-depressants.
‘What he did was horrific and his parents accept that, that’s why they are so distraught. How do you come to terms with the fact that your son has done such a thing?’
‘They are finding it very difficult to understand but there is nothing in Valdo ’s background that could have led to such a thing.
‘It can only be that he developed a mental condition that led to it. I don’t know what the victims’ families will feel about that, you want punishment in some way.’
Rev Vaughan’s wife, Hazel, said of Calocane’s mental spiral: ‘His parents had no idea he was as bad as he was.
‘Those anti-depressants didn’t suit him. He was getting help, and I’m guessing his meds weren’t working properly.’
She said Calocane’s parents used to travel to Nottingham to visit him ‘and have been to see him since this happened’, but described them as ‘very private people.’
She said that when she knew Calocane at church he was ‘very committed – he was not an outgoing lad but quite stable at that time’.
She added: ‘He was a little withdrawn but he was a good lad.
‘We have supported the family and said prayers for them, for Valdo and for his victims.
‘His parents still come to church. Without their faith I don’t know how they would have coped.
‘They are a lovely couple and their neighbours have been supportive.’
Mrs Vaughan said the congregation at Calvary Church in Haverfordwest had said prayers for the six victims of the June attack in the days afterwards – without realising the perpetrator’s own family were members of the church.