‘Show respect’, victim’s mum urges over graphic post

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Ian Coates, Barnaby Webber and Grace O’Malley-Kumar died at the scene of the attacks
By Samantha Noble & PA Media
BBC News

The mother of Nottingham attacks victim Barnaby Webber has urged a police staff member who she said wrote a graphic post about the killings to “show the respect that was not given to her son”.

Emma Webber has written an open letter to members of a police WhatsApp group where the message was published.

Mr Webber and Grace O’Malley-Kumar, both 19, and 65-year-old Ian Coates were fatally stabbed on 13 June 2023.

Nottinghamshire Police has been approached for comment.

Valdo Calocane, 32, carried out the fatal stabbings with a dagger in Nottingham, and attempted to kill three others.

In January he was given an indefinite hospital order for manslaughter by diminished responsibility, after Nottingham Crown Court heard he had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

On Friday, the victims’ families were told a sentence review hearing had been set for 8 May.

Emma Webber asked the message’s author to “show the respect in the future that you did not afford Barney”

Mrs Webber said she had been denied “repeated requests” to address the members of the WhatsApp group “privately and anonymously”, and so instead wrote an open letter in the Times as a way to reach the police staff members involved.

In the letter, she addressed several graphic messages that she said were put into the group.

The “callous, degrading and desensitised manner” of the comments in the WhatsApp group has caused “more trauma than you can imagine”, she said.

“When you say ‘a couple of students have been proper butchered’ did you stop to think about the absolute terror that they felt in the moment when they were ambushed and repeatedly stabbed by a man who had planned his attack and lay waiting in the shadows for them?

“Did you relate the excited urgency in your message of spreading ‘big news’ and preparing for a busy shift that countless lives had been destroyed forever.”

Speaking directly to the author of the message, she added: “I pray you will read this and pause for a while. Dig a little deeper for compassion and care. Show the respect in the future that you did not afford Barney.

“My aim is not to cause undue shame, or to have anyone publicly vilified; there’s no need to add yet more pain; I just hope that by reaching out to educate and explain, my voice might make a difference.

“If you feel able and wish to make contact know that you can and it will be kept fully private. I have written this open letter only because of the actions of your Chief Constable [Kate Meynell] and her senior leadership team.”

Nottinghamshire Police is being investigated by the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) over its handling of the attacks, and there is also a review by the College of Policing.

The Times also reported officers being disciplined behind closed doors in relation to the case.

A spokesman for Nottinghamshire Police told The Times: “A member of police staff has been dismissed following a gross misconduct hearing on 5 April for the misuse of force systems and breaching data protection by accessing information relating to recent homicide investigations.

“The investigation showed that the police staff member used police systems to research the offender, Valdo Calocane.

“There was no evidence that she viewed body-worn video or CCTV in relation to the case.

“All hearings relating to police staff misconduct are held in private. It would be inappropriate to comment further due to the ongoing independent investigation by the IOPC and the review by the College of Policing.”

In February, PC Matthew Gell received a final written warning for sharing information about the case in a text message, while another officer received management intervention in relation to the message which was described as “crude and distasteful”.

A special constable was dismissed for viewing footage showing the aftermath of the attacks.

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