Hero university student killed in Nottingham stabbing spree died trying to save friend, brother reveals

The family of an aspiring medic who was brutally stabbed to death have said she was a “hero” whose last moments had been spent trying to defend her friend.

Grace O’Malley-Kumar, 19, was one of three victims killed in the Nottingham stabbings last June, with Valdo Calocane pleading guilty to their manslaughters on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

A talented hockey player, Ms O’Malley-Kumar had been celebrating the end of exams with Barnaby Webber and had been returning to her student accommodation when they were ambushed by Calocane.

Prosecutor Karim Khalil KC told the court that she had shown “incredible bravery” and had leapt forward to defend Mr Webber after he was stabbed repeatedly, before Calocane turned his attentions towards her.

Speaking to Sky News, her 17-year-old brother James said: “Grace’s last moments were in pain and that’s something that really hurts me to think about and she was a hero, that was her character.

“She tried her best to save her friend. That was how Grace lost her life in the most vulnerable manner. She would never leave a friend, never, and that was very evident from her last moments. She passed fighting.”

After stabbing them both, Calocane travelled to Magdala Road where he killed Huntingdon Academy caretaker Ian Coates, 65, in a violent assault before stealing his Vauxhall van.

He then drove into the city centre where he deliberately drove into three pedestrians, causing one to be hospitalised with critical injuries. Calocane, who suffers with paranoid schizophrenia, was then tasered and arrested a short while later.

A former university student himself, Calocane had a history of mental health illness, and had previously tried to hand himself into the MI5 headquarters in London.

His guilty pleas to manslaughter were accepted by the prosecution after he was assessed by three psychiatrists.

Ms O’Malley-Kumar’s family had been hoping he would face a murder trial, with her father Dr Sanjoy Kumar saying they had “faith in the judiciary and have faith in the court”.

Dr Kumar also called for the government to take tougher action on knife crime, which he described as an “epidemic”.

Hoping to graduate as a medic and serve in the Armed Forces, Ms O’Malley-Kumar had also trained as a vaccinator and had treated hundreds of people against Covid-19 during the pandemic.

As well as this, she had been a talented sportswoman and had previously played hockey for England, as well as the under 16s and under 18s team.

“She was just the best sister I could have asked for, she was always there for me as a shoulder to cry on and to quietly listen. She had my best interests at heart all the time,” her brother said.

She died while trying to protect her friend Barnaby Webber

“Her smile was so contagious, I really miss her. Knowing that I’ll never see that again it’s something that really hurts me, she was such a joyous person to be around.

“Her laughter, her excitement, she had such an unmatched zest for life. She was honestly so perfect.”

He added that he could “never forgive” Calocane for killing her and has taken to wearing her earring and sleeping with her hocket top to “get as close as I can to her”.

Since her death, her family have begun the process of setting up a foundation in her memory which will raise funds for causes such as sport and education, as well as lobbying the government on knife crime.

Miss O’Malley-Kumar was an aspiring medic who had helped with vaccinations during the Covid-19 pandemic (Family Handout/PA)

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