Families of Nottingham attack victims recall moment they were told about their deaths

‘I remember I got out the car and I screamed. It was just like everything went dark around us’

The families of those killed in the Nottingham attacks have spoken publicly about about the moment they were first told the heartbreaking news of their loved ones’ deaths.

Grace O’Malley-Kumar and Barnaby Webber, both 19, were stabbed to death on Ilkeston Road last year by Valdo Calocane, who went on to kill Ian Coates, 65, after he stole his van and used it to seriously injure three pedestrians.

In a new BBC documentary titled The Big Cases: The Nottingham Attacks, never before seen footage was shown of the three victims, as well as interviews with their families. This included Grace and Barnaby’s respective parents and younger brothers, as well as Ian’s sons Lee and James and his sister Susan.

In the documentary, which aired on Monday night, Mr and Mrs Webber said that the news of a major incident in Nottingham city centre panicked both of them before they had received the devastating news of their son’s death.

Mr Webber said upon hearing of the incident, they checked the location of Barney’s phone which alerted them that he was not in his halls of residence.

“Ilkeston Road came up on the news and Dave said ‘Barney’s phone’s in Ilkeston Road’ and then the phone started moving,’ Mrs Webber said.

“My instant reaction was ‘he’s picked up, why isn’t he answering?’ I tried to ring it and tried to ring it. And then I saw where it went… it went to the police station.”

Barnaby’s parents then spoke of the horrific moment they were told that the police believed their son was one of the victims. Mr Webber said: “When someone says to you ‘Are you driving? Can you pull over safely?’ You just know that what they’re going to tell you is not what you want to hear. And yes, my world just fell apart.”

Mrs Webber told the BBC: “They said the word ‘deceased’ and Barney’s driving licence was on him. And I remember I got out the car and I screamed. It was just like everything went dark around us.”

Barnaby’s parents then detailed how they had to share the tragic news with Barnaby’s younger brother, Charlie, who “didn’t want to believe” that his older brother had died.

Mr Webber said: “How are we going to tell him? How the hell do we tell him that his brother’s dead, murdered? As a father you just feel your life’s gone. I’ve lost one and he [Charlie] was just crying his eyes out.”

Mrs Webber added: “He didn’t want to believe it obviously. He kept saying ‘it can’t be true, it can’t be true. I can’t live without him’.”

The documentary revealed that Barnaby’s bedroom in his hometown of Taunton, Somerset, has remained virtually untouched. His younger brother Charlie gave a tour of Barnaby’s room in the documentary, with his prize possessions including a cricket bat and sports shirts.

Charlie said in the documentary: “It’s quite weird coming in here because no-one really comes in here. It’s quite tough to be in here sometimes because, obviously, I spent a lot of time in here with him. Literally everything here is how he left it. No one has touched anything.”

Grace’s mother, Sinead, said that Grace “used to write little notes and leave them in my handbag or my pillow or in our bedside tables” and recalled how “she was a very affectionate child.”

Grace’s parents also revealed that they were told to expect the worst when Grace’s friends called them that morning. Mrs O’-Malley Kumar said: “Her friend from university phoned me and said that Barney was dead and that Grace was with Barney, they left together and we knew then.”

James, Grace’s younger brother, added: “Our hearts just kind of sunk when we heard that she was gone, and still to this day I still can’t comprehend that I will not see her again.”

The family of Ian Coates also recalled the moment they were told the tragic news last year, when the 65-year-old school caretaker was found dead on Magdala Road.

His son James said: “I’d heard that there had been an attack on Magdala Road which is around the corner from where I live. Slowly we started to put two and two together, and basically figured out what had happened and that it was my dad who was the victim on Magdala Road.

Ian’s sister, Susan, said that she “just screamed” upon hearing the news of her brother’s death when her daughter called her, adding that he was “such a kind man and all he was doing was going to work”.
Valdo Calocane was sentenced to an indefinite hospital order in January, having pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the basis of diminished responsibility. His diagnosis as a paranoid schizophrenic in 2019 means that he will be detained indefinitely in a high-security hospital.
Featured image via BBC.

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