LONDON (AP) — In the middle of a brutal rampage in which he fatally stabbed two college students and a 65-year-old man, Valdo Calocane phoned his brother to tell him it was the last time they would speak and he should leave Britain with their family, a prosecutor said Tuesday.
When his brother asked if he was planning something stupid, Calocane replied: “It is already done.”
Calocane had just slain university students Barnaby Webber and Grace O’Malley-Kumar, both 19, while they walked home after a night out celebrating the end of exams at the University of Nottingham, Prosecutor Karim Khalil said. He would go on to stab school caretaker Ian Coates, 65, steal his van and run down three other people in the streets of Nottingham in June.
Family members of the slain teens sobbed during the hearing Tuesday and condemned Calocane for his cowardice and cruelty as they spoke of their devastating loss.
“I feel absolute desolation and unfathomable grief at her loss,” Sinead O’Malley, mother of O’Malley-Kumar said. “My daily life is consumed with her loss and full of tears. I am dizzy with grief, I have been to the darkest corners of my mind.”
Calocane ,32, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and attempted murder at a hearing last year, but prosecutors had not announced whether they would accept the pleas or pursue murder charges at trial. During Tuesday's hearing, they accepted his guilty plea on the basis of diminished responsibility after psychiatrists said he suffered paranoid schizophrenia.
Prosecutors said their decision didn't diminish the gravity of his crimes.
“For the avoidance of any possible doubt, it is the crown’s position that the appalling facts of this case render it to be one of the utmost seriousness," Khalil said. “Footage shows that the devastating violence of the attacks was mirrored only by the deliberate and merciless way the defendant acted."
Calocane's rampage spread fear throughout the city for hours on June 13 as police tried to make sense of multiple crime scenes around the city and determine whether they were the acts of one person. In the days that followed his arrest, counterterrorism officers helped other investigators search for a motive for the brutal murders. Others looked into Calocane's mental health.
Born in Guinea-Bissau in West Africa, Calocane arrived with this family in the U.K. from Lisbon, Portugal in 2007 at age 16. He earned a mechanical engineering degree at Nottingham University.
His mental health problems first surfaced at the university when he believed roommates and the British intelligence service, MI6, were spying on him, and his family was under threat, his brother told investigators.
Calocane was found to be psychotic but a low risk to others after an arrest in May 2020 for damaging a door in his apartment. What followed was a series of low-level arrests and hospitalizations and orders to take medication that were not always followed.
“The theme of (Calocane) being prescribed medication but declining to take it is a constantly recurring one," Khalil said.
Calocane had approached the two students and pulled a dagger from his bag and repeatedly stabbed Webber, Khalil said. O'Malley-Kumar showed “incredible bravery” and tried to fight him off, pushing him into the road. He then attacked her and was “as uncompromisingly brutal in his assault of Grace as he was in his assault of Barnaby,” Khalil said Tuesday.
Prosecutors recounted the day of the murders in court.
After calling his brother, Calocane tried to get into a residential hostel but retreated when an occupant punched him in the face.
Nearby, he encountered Coates, who was driving a van. He stabbed him repeatedly and then took his van, leaving the man for dead.
He then drove toward the city center and “deliberately and violently" spun the van around and struck Wayne Birkett, who was crossing a street, flipping him and cracking his skull. When officers gave chase, he sped away and struck two other pedestrians.
Officers pinned in the van about five minutes later and tasered Calocane when he brandished a knife and arrested him.