The devastated parents of Grace O’Malley-Kumar say knife crime needs to be urgently examined.
The mother of a student who was stabbed to death has called for mandatory prison terms for carrying a knife.
Sinead O’Malley and Dr Sanjoy Kumar’s daughter Grace was killed in Nottingham on 13 June last year.
They said there needed to be a “massive deterrent” against using knives and called on the government to “urgently” examine the issue.
Ms O’Malley-Kumar and friend Barnaby Webber, both 19, and Ian Coates were fatally attacked by Valdo Calocane.
Calocane’s guilty pleas to manslaughter on the basis of diminished responsibility were accepted on Tuesday.
The court was told how Grace was killed “heroically” trying to protect Mr Webber as they walked home from a night out.
In an emotional interview with the BBC’s Breakfast, Ms O’Malley, a consultant anaesthetist, said carrying a knife was “no different” to carrying a gun.
She said: “I believe there has to be mandatory prison sentences for carrying a knife.
“It is not just an offensive weapon or something you could eat your food with. It is a lethal weapon.”
Dr Kumar, a GP, described knife crime in England as an “epidemic”, adding that existing legislation on the issue appeared “easy-going”.
“Every day it seems there is a story about someone being stabbed to death and it feels like nothing is being done about it,” he added.
Grace’s younger brother James echoed the calls of his parents, saying it seemed “easier to get access to a knife than alcohol”.
He has set up a foundation in his sister’s name to fund causes she supported and to “ensure she is never forgotten”.
There is currently no minimum sentence for people caught carrying a knife for the first time.
Whether or not a prison sentence is imposed depends on culpability, harm or aggravating and mitigating factors.
For those aged over 18, a minimum sentence of six months’ custody applies if someone has been caught with a knife before. For 16 and 17-year-olds, the equivalent is a four-month detention order.
Ms O’Malley-Kumar’s parents also paid tribute to their daughter, who was studying medicine at the University of Nottingham, saying she was the “happiest she had been in her whole life”.
Fighting back tears, Ms O’Malley said: “I miss her so much. She was my little friend, my pet. I’m literally dizzy with grief and it’s the same every day.”
Dr Kumar added: “The fact I will not see her graduate, or marry or see grandchildren is brutal.”
Ms O’Malley also revealed she had got a tattoo of her daughter’s name on her wrist, written in the way Ms O’Malley-Kumar had signed a birthday card to her mother when she was 16.
Grace dreamed of becoming a doctor like her parents and administered hundreds of jabs in the Covid vaccination programme.
She was also a keen cricketer and hockey player.
Calocane, 32, admitted three counts of manslaughter and three counts of attempted murder, but denied murder on mental health grounds.
In court, Dr Kumar praised his daughter’s bravery for trying to fight off Calocane but said “because of the weapon you carried she stood no chance”.
He branded Calocane a “cold, cowardly and calculating killer” who had left his child “lying in the street”.
The sentencing at Nottingham Crown Court continues.