Family of teenager stabbed to death gets judicial review into inquest findings

The decision was hailed by Yousef Makki’s family as a step in the right direction.

Pat Hurst
Wednesday 18 May 2022 13:31 BST
Yousef Ghaleb Makki (Family/PA)
Yousef Ghaleb Makki (Family/PA) (PA Media)

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Louise Thomas

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The family of a teenager stabbed to death in an upmarket Cheshire village has won the right to have a judicial review into his inquest findings.

Joshua Molnar stabbed Yousef Makki with a flick knife after the two, both then aged 17, had a row in Hale Barns on the evening of March 2 2019.

Molnar, from a wealthy Cheshire family, was cleared of murder and manslaughter following a trial at Manchester Crown Court four months later.

He claimed self-defence and told the jury that knives were produced after they argued and there was a “coming together”, the court heard.

Molnar, Yousef and another youth, Adam Chowdhary, then 17, had all carried knives that night.

Molnar was jailed for 16 months for possession of a knife in a public place and perverting the course of justice by lying to police at the scene.

Joshua Molnar (Peter Byrne/PA)
Joshua Molnar (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Archive)

Lawyers for the Makki family at the inquest into Yousef’s death argued that because the standard of proof in a criminal trial is “beyond reasonable doubt” while the standard during inquests is lower, being “on the balance of probabilities”, the coroner could conclude Yousef was unlawfully killed.

Alistair Webster QC, representing Molnar at the inquest, in final legal submissions to the coroner, said Yousef’s death was simply a “terrible accident”.

Alison Mutch, senior coroner for Greater Manchester South, following a week of evidence last November, concluded she could not be sure of the “precise sequence of events” and ruled out both unlawful killing and accidental death as a conclusion.

Matthew Stanbury, representing the Makki family at a hearing at the High Court in Manchester on Wednesday, claimed the coroner’s ruling, that what happened could not be known, was “inevitable” due to the failure to analyse and “grapple” with central issues in the case.

There's still a long way to go but it's a small step in the right direction

Ghaleb Makki, father

Mr Stanbury said the issues included Molnar’s credibility and “numerous lies”, his state of mind at the time of the stabbing, the question of who was the first to take out a knife and pathological evidence.

He asked for permission for a judicial review in the hope of holding a fresh inquest in due course before the chief coroner or a judge.

Mrs Justice Heather Williams granted permission for the judicial review and after she left the courtroom a round of applause broke out from the Makki family and supporters.

Yousef’s father, Ghaleb Makki, said: “There’s still a long way to go but it’s a small step in the right direction.”

Mr Stanbury said: “Today is a significant step forward and we are optimistic about getting a fresh inquest.”

Yousef, 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 and they became good friends.

Along with Molnar they acted out fantasies of being “middle class gangsters” and toyed with weapons, the trial heard.

Chowdhary had bought two flick knives from an online website, Wish, for himself and Yousef, and told police he did not see what had happened between Yousef and Molnar.

Chowdhary was cleared of perverting the course of justice by the jury at his trial but admitted possession of a flick knife and was given a four-month detention order.

A date and venue for the judicial review has yet to be determined.

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