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Nottingham attack victims ‘properly butchered’, officer posted in WhatsApp group

Emma Webber, the mother of Barnaby Webber, has written to the Nottinghamshire Police officer who she says posted graphic details of the injuries.

Undated family handout photo issued by Nottinghamshire Police of Ian Coates, Barnaby Webber and Grace O’Malley-Kumar.

The mother of one of the Nottingham attack victims has written an open letter to members of a police WhatsApp group in which a message was posted describing her son as being “properly butchered”.

Emma Webber, the mother of Barnaby Webber, 19, who with Grace O’Malley-Kumar, 19, and school caretaker Ian Coates, 65, was stabbed to death by Valdo Calocane, has written to the Nottinghamshire Police officer who she says posted graphic details of the victims’ injuries in the chat group.

Calocane, 32, carried out the fatal stabbings with a dagger in Nottingham in the early hours of June 13 last year, 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.

Valdo Calocane
Valdo Calocane (Nottinghamshire Police/PA)

Mrs Webber has shared an open letter to “the WhatsApp group of police officers who discussed the attack” as she has been denied the opportunity to speak to the group “privately and anonymously”, she said.

Mrs Webber said the “callous, degrading and desensitised manner” of the comments has caused “more trauma than you can imagine”.

She added: “When you say ‘a couple of students have been properly 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.

“When you say ‘innards out and everything’ did you think about the agony they felt and the final thoughts that went through their minds as this vicious individual inflicted wounds so serious that they had no chance of surviving.

“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.”

Emma Webber, mother of Barnaby Webber.
Emma Webber, mother of Barnaby Webber (Jacob King/PA)

Mrs Webber said she has the “utmost respect” for the emergency services, but added that anyone “who can witness the details of such a horror as happened in the early hours of the 14th June 2023; and refer to lost children as butchered animals; should seriously consider their position”.

The officer who wrote the message has received a management warning, Mrs Webber said she understands.

She said she does not know how many officers were in the group.

Speaking directly to the author of the message, she said: “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 and her senior leadership team.”

On May 8 the sentence handed to Calocane will be reviewed at the Court of Appeal, after Attorney General Victoria Prentis concluded it was “unduly lenient”.

Mrs Webber has previously said she has “lost faith” in Nottinghamshire Police’s leadership and called for the chief constable to step aside while allegations of failings are investigated.

She raised concerns after it emerged the son of the force’s boss, Kate Meynell, was among members of the police WhatsApp group in which graphic details were posted about the killings.

The force is being investigated by both the police watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) and the College of Policing after coming under fire over its handling of the case.

A force investigation found 11 members of staff viewed material about the case without any legitimate reason for doing so. Three faced disciplinary action but eight were instead handed “performance interventions”.

Nottingham attack
James Coates, son of Ian Coates, Emma Webber, mother of Barnaby Webber and Dr Sanjoy Kumar, father of Grace O’Malley-Kumar (Lucy North/PA)

Earlier this year, Ms Meynell said she was “horrified” after one of her officers viewed bodycam footage showing the aftermath of the attacks. The special constable was sacked in December.

Meanwhile, Police Constable Matthew Gell was given a final written warning after a misconduct hearing in January found he breached confidentiality standards after sharing information about the case in a text message.

Another staff member will also face misconduct proceedings.

A spokesman for Nottinghamshire Police told The Times: “A member of police staff has been dismissed following a gross misconduct hearing on April 5 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.”

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