Unlawful killing ‘could be found’ in Yousef Makki case, inquest hears

An unlawful killing conclusion could be found in the case of an ex-public schoolboy cleared of murdering his friend, an inquest heard.

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

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

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

But Pete Weatherby QC told Stockport Coroner’s Court a verdict of unlawful killing could be safely found at the conclusion of the inquest into Yousef’s death.

He said while the standard of proof in criminal trials is “beyond reasonable doubt”, the standard during inquests is lower, being “on the balance of probabilities”.

Hale Barns fatal stabbing
Joshua Molnar arriving at Manchester Crown Court (Peter Byrne/PA)

On the sixth day of the inquest, in final legal submissions to Alison Mutch, senior coroner for South Manchester, Mr Weatherby said: “The jury (in the criminal trial) may well have formed the view Mr Molnar probably committed one of the homicide offences but could not exclude the possibility of self-defence and were required by law to acquit.”

Mr Weatherby said there were no “logical or legal inconsistencies” in coming to an unlawful killing verdict in the inquest, where different standards of proof apply.

But Alistair Webster QC, representing Molnar, said there was “no basis” for Ms Mutch to conclude a verdict of unlawful killing, given his client had been cleared in the criminal trial.

He said if the jury’s and the coroner’s conclusions were “inconsistent” it would “bring the law into disrepute”.

He added: “The circumstances themselves justify self-defence, since infliction was not deliberate, the reality was a terrible accident.”

Molnar and another youth involved in the incident, Adam Chowdhary, had led double lives, playing “middle-class gangsters” listening to Drill music, smoking cannabis and carrying knives despite both coming from wealthy Cheshire families and living in a leafy, low-crime area, the trial heard.

Mr Makki, from a single-parent family from south Manchester, won a scholarship to the £12,000-a-year Manchester Grammar School, where Chowdhary was also a pupil.

The court heard Chowdhary had bought two flick knives from an online website, Wish, for himself and Yousef, and took them out that day to impress Molnar.

The lead-up to Yousef’s death has been described as either a drug deal gone wrong or a revenge attack, leading to Molnar being beaten up and his £2,000 bike thrown in a hedge and lost – while Chowdhary fled and Yousef stood by.

They then came to blows and the knives were produced, Molnar told the inquest, with Yousef being stabbed in the heart.

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.

Chowdhary was given a four-month detention order after admitting possession of a flick knife but cleared of perverting the course of justice.

Ms Mutch retired to consider her conclusions and the inquest will resume on Wednesday.