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Grace O'Malley-Kumar’s mother calls for mandatory prison for those carrying knives

Grace O'Malley-Kumar’s mother calls for mandatory prison for those carrying knives

The mother of a teenage girl who was stabbed to death wants mandatory jail time for anyone caught with a knife on them.

Sinead O'Malley was talking about how her daughter Grace O'Malley-Kumar, 19, was killed in Nottingham on June 13 last year, alongside her friend Barnaby Webber, also 19, and 65-year-old Ian Coates.

All three were attacked by Valdo Calocane, 32, whose pleas to manslaughter because of diminished responsibility through mental illness, were accepted on Tuesday.

Ms O'Malley told BBC's Breakfast she thinks carrying a knife is “no different” to carrying a gun and jail should be used as a “massive deterrent”.

The mother said: “I believe there has to be mandatory prison sentences for carrying a knife.

"It is not just an offensive weapon or something you could eat your food with. It is a lethal weapon."

Grace’s father Dr Sanjoy Kumar called knife crime in the country an "epidemic" nd called for legislation on it to be toughened.

"Every day it seems there is a story about someone being stabbed to death and it feels like nothing is being done about it," he said.

Grace O'Malley-Kumar died at the age of 19 (PA)
Grace O'Malley-Kumar died at the age of 19 (PA)
Barnaby Webber was also 19 (PA)
Barnaby Webber was also 19 (PA)

Calocane, formerly of Forest Fields, Nottingham, is expected to be sentenced on Thursday at the city's Crown Court.

On top of manslaughter, he has also admitted three counts of attempted murder relating to pedestrians he targeted in Nottingham city centre on the same day as Grace’s death.

On Wednesday, his lawyer Peter Joyce KC urged Mr Justice Turner not to consider a whole-life order.

Mr Joyce told the court: "There are very few whole-life orders and they have all, without exception, been for offences of murder.

"This man is not before you for murder, he is before you for manslaughter.

“Schizophrenia is a well-established, long-established mental disease that can strike anyone and will strike 1% of the population through no fault of their own.

"The clearest evidence in this case is available... it (the mental illness) started in late 2019 and he was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic in May 2020.

"No fabrication, no exaggeration, no concoction - this unwanted visitor to his life hit him. That's the fact."

Court sketch of Valdo Calocane, 32, appearing at Nottingham Crown Court (PA)
Court sketch of Valdo Calocane, 32, appearing at Nottingham Crown Court (PA)

Mr Joyce said schizophrenia had "stalked down" a man of previously impeccable character and behaviour.

He added: "It's the fact that you have now before you a list of psychiatric episodes that he endured over years and years."

Pointing out that the initial diagnosis of schizophrenia was made two years before the killings, Mr Joyce said: "Any pretence that he is not ill is wrong."

The defence barrister went on to describe Calocane as "a man who prior to being smitten" by mental illness "was wholly law-abiding, was hard-working, put himself through university and was doing his very, very best to become a meaningful member of society."

He added: "By the time June 2023 came around he had been wanted on a warrant in this very city for nine months, for the assault of a police officer.

"And what was the police officer doing when he was arrested? He was trying to detain him under the Mental Health Act.

"What clearer demonstration could you have that this man was by then seriously mentally unwell?

"He should not have been on the streets of Nottingham but the fact he was is not his fault."

Mr Joyce went on: "His case is essentially very simple: 'I was ordered to do this by the voices in my head', and any fair analysis of him says that that is right."

"Of course, he destroyed these lives. It (mental illness) destroyed their lives and his life was destroyed too.

"It is very unlikely that for very, very many years he will see other than the inside of a secure mental hospital."

Submitting that a hospital order should be passed on Calocane, Mr Joyce told the court that being confined in a hospital such as Ashworth, Broadmoor or Rampton was "no easy option”.