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His Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Inspectorate publishes inspection into CPS’s handing of Nottingham triple-killer Valdo Calocane’s case

His Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Inspectorate (HMCPSI) has today (Monday, March 25) published its inspection of the handling of Nottingham triple-killer Valdo Calocane’s case.

HMCPSI is calling on the government to consider reviewing how homicide is categorised and the impact of diminished responsibility in the wake of the stabbing case — which saw three killed and three others attacked.

Valdo Calocane, 32, who has paranoid schizophrenia, killed three people and injured three more while in the 'grip of a psychotic episode' in the early June 13, 2023.

Nottingham triple-killer Valdo Calocane.
Nottingham triple-killer Valdo Calocane.

He fatally stabbed students Barnaby Webber and Grace O’Malley-Kumar, both 19, and school caretaker Ian Coates, 65, and hit Wayne Birkett, of Newark, and Sharon Miller and Marcin Gawronski with Mr Coates’ van, which he had stolen from the victim.

Calocane was sentenced to an indefinite hospital order by Judge Mr Justice Turner, at Nottingham Crown Court on January 25, after pleading guilty to three counts of manslaughter by diminished responsibility and three counts of attempted murder.

HMCPSI’s independent inspection looked into the Crown Prosecution Service’s (CPS) handling of the case.

The inspection found that the CPS complied with the law and met their obligations to the families, but the case also highlighted areas where the families could have been better supported during an incredibly difficult process.

Chief inspector Anthony Rogers said: “This was a horrific and tragic case. Valdo Calocane brutally killed three innocent people, and violently attacked three other victims. My thoughts remain with all those involved in this tragic case during this devastating time.

“It is unimaginable having to deal with the death of a loved one under such horrific circumstances, but having to deal with the criminal justice system at a time of heartbreak and grief adds a further dimension of challenge.

“To better support victims and increase public trust, we call on the government to consider amending the homicide law, review the support provided to victims of crime in serious cases such as this, and provide greater clarity about the role of victims in the criminal justice system.”

To better support victims and clarify the law, HMCPSI is calling on Government to consider:

• Whether homicide should be categorised in three tiers, as recommended by the Law Commission in 2006 — first degree murder, second degree murder, and manslaughter.

• Whether the culpability of the person who commits murder should be reduced to manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility.

• If homicide is not to be categorised in three tiers and diminished responsibility is not to be a partial defence to murder, whether the mandatory life sentence should remain for all cases of murder.

• Whether the support provided by the existing Victims’ Code and Bereaved Family Scheme should be reconsidered and clarify when victims are entitled to be ‘consulted’ about decisions taken as opposed to being ‘informed’.

On January 30, 2024 the Attorney General Victoria Prentis KC MP asked HMCPSI to carry out a rapid and independent inspection of the actions carried out by the CPS in the Calocane case following concerns raised by the victims’ families.

The inspection found that the CPS made the correct decision to charge Calocane with three offences of murder and three offences of attempted murder in relation to the events of June 13, 2023.

The CPS also made the correct decision to accept Calocane’s pleas of guilty to manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility and attempted murder for the three surviving victims.

The report stated: “The CPS could not have proceeded on the murder allegations because of the clear and unambiguous findings of the prosecution and defence psychiatric reports that the offender’s actions were because of pure psychosis that substantially impaired his ability to form rational judgments and to exercise self-control.”

However, it noted that “if the recommendation of the Law Commission in 2006 had been accepted and implemented, the unlawful killings in this tragic case would have been categorised as murder, albeit second degree murder”.

Inspectors found the CPS were committed to providing a good service to the families and met their obligations to the victims’ families under the Bereaved Family Scheme and the Victims’ Code of Practice.

It stated: “It is understandable why the bereaved families find the decision by the CPS to accept the pleas of not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter difficult to accept. Their loved ones were violently killed by an offender who knew what he was doing was wrong and who intended to kill them. The term manslaughter has the perception to underplay the gravity of what has taken place.”

However, there were elements where the CPS could have improved their engagement with the victims’ families, and the inspection noted that the families felt unsupported and secondary to the whole process. HMCPSI has suggested greater clarity is needed about the role of victims in the criminal justice system.

It noted the families had received out of date letters from the CPS, letters with standard legal details which may not have been understood, and that families could have been given a better understanding of diminished responsibility sooner.

One family also appeared to have been “left out and overlooked” after not being told about meetings to discuss psychiatric evidence which were attended by the other two families.

Additionally, the CPS’s use of ‘consult’ may have “contributed to a general misunderstanding of the CPS’s obligations” when they are only obliged to ‘inform’ and ‘explain’.

To improve future performance, HMCPSI has recommended that the CPS must undertake a review of all guidance relating to victims’ engagement to ensure that all staff are aware when use of the terms ‘consult’ or ‘consultation’ is appropriate by October 2024.

The report stated: “We are aware that our findings will be disappointing for the families.”

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