Death of schoolboy Yousef Makki ruled neither accident nor unlawful

Coroner says standard for unlawful killing verdict had not been met

An undated handout picture released by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) on March 6, 2019 shows Yousef Makki, 17, who was fatally stabbed in Altrincham, near Manchester,  northwest England, on March 2, 2019. - Britain's knife-crime epidemic should be treated "like a disease", interior minister Sajid Javid said on March 6, 2019, as the government announced a summit following another weekend of stabbings. The issue was top of the news agenda again after 17-year-old Jodie Chesney was killed in an east London park as she sat with friends, and Yousef Ghaleb Makki, also 17, died near Manchester -- the ninth and 10th teenagers to be knifed to death this year. (Photo by HO / GREATER MANCHESTER POLICE / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / METROPOLITAN POLICE" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

An inquest into the death of an Anglo-Lebanese public schoolboy has recorded a "narrative conclusion", with the coroner saying she cannot be certain of the exact circumstances in which the teenager died after being knifed.

Yousef Makki, 17, was killed after a fight with his friend Joshua Molnar in the upmarket Hale Barns area of Greater Manchester, England, last March.

Senior South Manchester Coroner Alison Mutch said she could not conclude that the teenager's death had been an "unlawful killing", a verdict favoured by Yousef's family.

Ms Mutch, in a lengthy conclusion, recorded that he died from a stab wound to the chest.

“He died from complications of a stab wound to the chest. The precise circumstances of which he was wounded cannot, on the balance of probabilities, be ascertained,” she said.

"Having reflected on and considered all the evidence, I'm not satisfied even on the balance of probabilities that I can be satisfied as to the precise sequence of events so that I can be satisfied that the death was an unlawful killing.

"Therefore, that conclusion is not open to me."

She said the only verdict available to her was a narrative conclusion.

Ms Mutch said she would write to Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi to ask how teenagers’ knowledge of the dangers of carrying knives could be improved, having heard in the inquest how keeping a blade was regarded as “cool”.

Mr Molnar stabbed his friend Yousef in the heart with a flick knife after a row in Hale Barns, Cheshire, in the early evening of March 2, 2019.

They were both aged 17 at the time, and Mr Molnar claimed there was a “coming together” after Yousef pulled a flick knife on him first and he took out his own knife.

He claimed self-defence and was cleared of manslaughter and murder by a jury after a four-week trial at Manchester Crown Court in July 2019.

Mr Molnar was jailed for 16 months for possession of a knife and perverting the course of justice by initially lying to police at the scene about what had happened.

After the verdict, Yousef's family said they were "disappointed" and "disgusted” with the coroner's decision and would be examining further legal steps.

“Our family, with the support of our legal team and Yousef’s many friends and supporters have battled the justice system since Yousef was killed," they said.

"And it seems that again, from today onwards, the fight for justice for Yousef Makki will continue. Over the coming days and weeks we will be discussing with our legal team the next steps.

“Yousef was the kindest, most charming young man. He always had a twinkle in his eye and the warmest smile, which could instantly make you smile too, no matter what mood you were in.

“This is how we want to remember him, with his warm smile and his caring nature. The last conversation we ever had together was of his dreams of going to Oxford or Cambridge University – a dream that he was very much on track for.”

Mr Molnar's family said the case was "tragic and unusual" but said the coroner's decision was "consistent" with the ruling in the court trial.

"It is the right decision. It shows we have a functioning justice system", they said. "Josh has accepted responsibility for his involvement in Yousef’s death. His remorse is genuine and heartfelt. He will live with this for the rest of his life.

"This was a truly tragic incident between friends and we hope today’s decision will bring an end to any further speculation.

"There are no winners here. A young life has been lost and a family devastated by his death.

"But to continue to suggest that Josh is guilty is wrong and those who persist in saying that are ignoring the conclusions of both court proceedings. Those conclusions ought now to be respected."

Updated: November 17th 2021, 8:37 PM