Valdo Calocane: Attorney General orders review into decision to accept Nottingham's triple killer's pleas

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The Attorney General has ordered an independent review of the Crown Prosecution Service’s handling of the Nottingham stabbing case, as Rishi Sunak promised victims’ families that “we will get the answers”.

The inspection announced by Victoria Prentis on Tuesday will look into the CPS’s decision to accept triple killer Valdo Calocane’s guilty pleas to manslaughter on the basis of diminished responsibility and whether it sufficiently consulted the victims’ families.

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Thirty-two-year-old Calocane stabbed students Barnaby Webber, 19, Grace O’Malley-Kumar, 19, and school caretaker Ian Coates, 65, with a dagger in Nottingham in the early hours of June 13 last year.

Last week, the killer was given a hospital order at his sentencing for manslaughter by diminished responsibility after the city’s crown court heard he had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Mr Webber’s family described the hospital order as a “huge insult” and called for a public inquiry into the case.

Speaking after the sentencing hearing last week, Mr Webber’s mother Emma Webber said the bereaved families were “presented with a fait accompli that the decision had been made to accept manslaughter charges” when they met the CPS in November. She said: “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.”

Ms Prentis said she ordered the urgent CPS review, to be carried out by His Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate, “so we can properly investigate the concerns raised by the families”.

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The Prime Minister said independent investigations have been set up into Nottingham institutions’ role in alleged missed opportunities to stop Calocane before his deadly stabbings. An inquiry could still happen, Mr Sunak said, but only if deemed necessary once the probes have concluded.

Former Bulwell Academy caretaker Ian Coates and students Barnaby Webber and Grace O'Malley-Kumar were named as the three victims of the Nottingham attacksFormer Bulwell Academy caretaker Ian Coates and students Barnaby Webber and Grace O'Malley-Kumar were named as the three victims of the Nottingham attacks
Former Bulwell Academy caretaker Ian Coates and students Barnaby Webber and Grace O'Malley-Kumar were named as the three victims of the Nottingham attacks

In an interview with ITV’s This Morning on Tuesday, a day after a meeting with the victims’ relatives in Downing Street, Mr Sunak said: “What they’ve expressed to me are a bunch of questions about what’s happened that they have. How did the NHS operate? Was mental health properly checked? How was the police investigation conducted? How was the Crown Prosecution Service operating and interacting with them? I think those are all perfectly reasonable questions. What I said to them is that we will get the answers. That’s what they deserve. That’s what I’ve committed to.

“We’ve set up investigations, independent ones, into all those areas I mentioned. The NHS, the Crown Prosecution Service, the police forces. So, they’re all going to be looked at independently so we can get those answers. That’s going to happen promptly and thoroughly and effectively, as quickly as possible.

“Once we hear back from that, then we can sit down with them and decide if there are more questions that need answering. Is the inquiry then the next logical step?”

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The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said Mr Sunak “remains open to an inquiry” and pointed out that Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire police have referred themselves to the Independent Office for Police Conduct and the Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner has commissioned the College of Policing to do a “thorough review”.

It comes after it emerged that police failed to arrest Calocane for allegedly attacking two people weeks before the stabbings. A special review has also been ordered into the mental health trust that treated him before the killings.

Ms Prentis said: “The senseless deaths of Barnaby Webber, Grace O’Malley-Kumar and Ian Coates have horrified the country. While nothing will bring their loved ones back, the families understandably want to understand what happened in this case. That’s why I have asked the inspectorate to carry out a prompt and thorough review of CPS actions so we can properly investigate the concerns raised by the families in this devastating case.”

The findings of the review are expected by Easter, with the Attorney General’s Office to work with the CPS to ensure any recommendations are swiftly implemented.

A CPS spokesperson said: “We will fully engage with the review.”

Ms Prentis is also considering whether judges should review the sentence after receiving a submission that it could be unduly lenient.

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