PROSECUTORS have accepted the pleas of the Nottingham stabbings killer – a university graduate from Haverfordwest – who admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility due to mental illness.
Valdo Calocane, who goes by the name Adam Mendes, admitted killing three people and trying to kill three others in the spate of violence in the early hours of 13 June last year.
The Herald revealed at that time previously unknown details about the suspect, having received information from Nottingham Police.
Calocane, completed his degree in mechanical engineering. Prior to attending university, he grew up in Haverfordwest, where his academic abilities were well-known.
During his studies at university, Calocane resided in close proximity to the section of Ilkeston Road where the tragic incidents occurred in the early hours of Tuesday.
He was apprehended on suspicion of murdering Grace O’Malley-Kumar and Barnaby Webber, both first-year students at the University of Nottingham.
At the start of sentencing proceedings at Nottingham Crown Court this week, prosecutor Karim Khalil KC described how the defendant carried out the “deliberate and merciless” attacks, after calling his brother to say: “This is the last time I will talk to you.”
His first victims were Grace O’Malley-Kumar and Barnaby Webber, both 19-year-old Nottingham University students, who were walking home from a night out.
When they were just 200 metres from their accommodation, Calocane followed Webber and stabbed him repeatedly with a dagger.
“Grace, demonstrating incredible bravery, sought to protect her friend and fight off the killer, pushing him away and into the road,” Khalil said.
The defendant then fought with her for 30 seconds, stabbing her repeatedly, before returning to inflict further violence on Webber, who was lying in the road.
Witnesses described hearing “an awful, blood-curdling scream” and seeing O’Malley-Kumar crawl towards the houses on the opposite side of the road shouting for help. The CCTV footage of the attack, in which the killer emerged from a hiding place to fatally stab the pair, was not shown in court.
The killer appeared in the dock flanked by five people, including two NHS workers, wearing a black suit jacket with a light-coloured shirt and glasses. He did not react as details of the attacks were read out to the court.
The court was packed with the families of the three who were killed, as well as university friends of the students. Sobs could be heard as details of the attacks on the 19-year-olds were described in court.
CCTV footage played in court showed the killer walking calmly around the city in the hours before the attack.
After the first killings, Calocane called his brother and told him to take the family out of the country. When asked: “Are you going to do something stupid?”, Calocane replied: “It’s already done.”
He then attempted to break into Seely Hirst House, a hostel for vulnerable homeless adult men, admitting later he had intended to kill someone there, but was unable to gain entry.
Calocane then attacked school caretaker Ian Coates, who was driving past, stabbing him repeatedly and leaving him for dead.
He stole Coates’s van and drove into the city centre, where he drove into a number of pedestrians. Wayne Birkett, who was crossing the road, was flipped into the air and rolled on to the pavement, receiving multiple serious injuries, including a fractured skull, which caused a bleed to his brain.
He also drove at speed towards Sharon Miller and Marcin Gawronski, who were walking to work. Both were “extremely fortunate to survive the impact”, Khalil said.
The court heard how Calocane, who was born in Guinea-Bissau and came to the UK with his family in 2007 when he was 16, had been receiving treatment from mental health services since 2020, including being treated with anti-psychotic medication.
Khalil said that over the following years, Calocane, who has paranoid schizophrenia, “actively concealed symptoms of psychosis” and refused to take his medication.
On one occasion in 2020, he was admitted to hospital after breaking down two doors to different apartments in his block, and in 2021 he assaulted a police officer during a search of his flat in which a bag of unused medication was found.
The defendant then engaged in a struggle with her for 30 seconds, relentlessly stabbing her, before turning his attention back to Webber, who lay injured in the road. Witnesses recounted hearing ‘an awful, blood-curdling scream’ and saw O’Malley-Kumar crawling towards the houses across the street, desperately calling for help. The CCTV footage capturing the attack, where the assailant emerged from a concealed spot to fatally stab the victims, was not presented in court.
In the dock, the murderer appeared, surrounded by five individuals, including two NHS workers, donned in a black suit jacket, a light-hued shirt, and spectacles. He remained impassive as the details of the gruesome attacks were recited in the courtroom.
The courtroom was filled with relatives of the three deceased, alongside university friends of the students. As the court heard the harrowing details of the assault on the 19-year-olds, audible sobs echoed in the room.
CCTV footage shown in court captured the killer strolling placidly through the city in the hours preceding the attack.
Following the initial murders, Calocane phoned his brother, urging him to take their family out of the country. When queried, ‘Are you going to do something foolish?’, Calocane responded, ‘It’s already done.’
He subsequently attempted to break into Seely Hirst House, a shelter for vulnerable homeless men, later admitting he had planned to commit murder there but was thwarted in gaining entry.
Calocane then brutally attacked school caretaker Ian Coates, who happened to be driving by, stabbing him repeatedly and leaving him critically wounded.
He hijacked Coates’s van and drove into the city centre, where he rammed into several pedestrians.
Wayne Birkett, crossing the road, was catapulted into the air and tumbled onto the pavement, sustaining multiple severe injuries, including a fractured skull leading to cerebral haemorrhage.
He also recklessly drove at Sharon Miller and Marcin Gawronski, who were en route to their workplace.
Both narrowly escaped death from the collision, as Khalil noted.
The court learned that Calocane, a native of Guinea-Bissau who migrated to the UK with his family in 2007 at the age of 16, had been under mental health care since 2020, including treatment with anti-psychotic drugs.
Khalil revealed that over the years, Calocane, diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, deliberately hid symptoms of psychosis and consistently refused to take his medication.
In one instance in 2020, he was hospitalised after forcefully breaking into two different flats in his building, and in 2021, he assaulted a police officer during a search of his flat, where a stash of unutilised medication was discovered.”