Grace O’Malley-Kumar: PM backs calls for 19-year-old stabbed to death in Nottingham to be awarded George Cross

Grace O'Malley-Kumar: PM backs calls for 19-year-old stabbed to death in Nottingham to be awarded George Cross

Rishi Sunak has backed calls for a student who was stabbed to death while trying to save to her friend to be awarded a posthumous George Cross.

Grace O’Malley-Kumar, 19, fought Valdo Calocane when he attacked fellow student Barnaby Webber as they returned from a night out celebrating the end of exams last June.

During Calocane’s trial, prosecutor Karim Khalil KC said Ms O’Malley-Kumar had shown “incredible bravery” by trying to protect Mr Webber from Calocane’s blows and tried to fight him off, pushing him away and into the road.

The killer then turned his attention to her and was “as uncompromisingly brutal in his assault of Grace as he was in his assault of Barnaby”, Mr Khalil said.

Calocane admitted killing Grace, Barnaby and school caretaker Ian Coates on the basis of diminished responsibility, a plea which the Crown Prosecution Service has accepted.

(L-R) Ian Coates, Barnaby Webber, Grace O’Malley-Kumar

Ms O’Malley-Kumar’s parents today called for her to be awarded the George Cross, an award recognising “the greatest heroism or of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger”.

And Downing Street has now weighed in – saying the prime minister “would certainly” back the family’s campaign and “pay tribute to the bravery that Grace demonstrated whilst faced with perilous and terrifying circumstances”.

Rishi Sunak during a press conference at the Warsaw Armoured Brigade in Warsaw during Rishi Sunak's visit to Poland and Germany.
Pic: PA
Rishi Sunak. Pic: PA

Mr Sunak’s spokesman noted that “decisions around the George Cross are made by an independent committee to review, and final decisions are then made by His Majesty the King”.

“But of course, the prime minister would support those nominations,” he added. “The leadership example [Grace] provided in that tragic circumstance was commendable and absolutely the PM would get behind that campaign.”

Ms O’Malley-Kumar was a first-year medical student who played for the England under-18s hockey team.

Grace O'Malley-Kumar  pictured with her family
Pic: Nottinghamshire Police
Grace O’Malley-Kumar with her family. Pic: Nottinghamshire Police

Her mum Sinead O’Malley said in an interview with The Sun: “The George Cross would be a remarkable acknowledgement of her bravery, for sure.

“Grace is never coming back to us, but we never want her to be forgotten, and this would certainly make sure she is remembered forever.”

Her father Dr Sanjoy Kumar said the award “would be an example to every other young person”, as her brother James hailed her a “hero”.

Tory MP Marco Longhi, who sits on the Home Affairs select committee, said Ms O’Malley-Kumar deserved the medal as she “showed selfless bravery”.

The family of Grace O'Malley-Kumar outside Nottingham Crown Court
Pic: PA
Grace O’Malley-Kumar’s parents outside Nottingham Crown Court. Pic: PA

David Morris, another Conservative MP, also called for her to be given the “ultimate honour”.

Her brother James, 17, had said in a previous interview with Sky News: “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.”

Read more:
Families traumatised by police messages about killings
Timeline of missed opportunities to stop Calocane

Pic: PA
James (centre), the brother of Grace O'Malley-Kumar, arriving at Nottingham Crown Court where Valdo Calocane will be sentenced for the murders of Grace O'Malley-Kumar, Barnaby Webber and Ian Coates, and the attempted murder of three others, in a spate of attacks in Nottingham on June 13 2023. Picture date: Thursday January 25, 2024.
Her brother James said ‘she would never leave a friend’. Pic: PA

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He added: “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.”

James described his sister’s death as a “loss to the country” as he pointed to her riding a Vespa to a clinic to vaccinate hundreds of people during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as her aspirations of serving as a medic in the armed forces.