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Fatal stabbing of pupil followed botched attempt to rob drug dealer, court hears

Yousef Makki, 17, was a pupil at the prestigious Manchester Grammar School. Photo:

A grammar school pupil was stabbed in the heart by his teenage friend after a botched attempt to rob a drug dealer of £45 worth of cannabis, a court heard.

Yousef Makki, 17, a pupil at prestigious Manchester Grammar School died at the hands of his 17-year-old friend in Hale Barns, a leafy Cheshire village, a jury at Manchester Crown Court heard.

The alleged killer, Boy A, has pleaded not guilty to murder and also denies conspiracy to robbery in Hale Barns on March 2 2019.

He has admitted a charge of perverting the course of justice and possession of a flick knife.

A second youth, Boy B, also aged 17 and a mutual friend of both the defendant and his alleged killer, denies conspiracy to robbery and perverting the course of justice.

He has pleaded guilty to possession of a flick knife.

Neither defendant can be named because they are aged under 18.

Their friend, Yousef Makki, was from an Anglo-Lebanese family from Burnage, Manchester, who had won a scholarship to attend the prestigious £12,000-a-year grammar school in Manchester, and had dreamed of becoming a heart surgeon.

Yousef's father sat watching from the public gallery above the dock where the defendants, both wearing suits and ties, were seated, as Nick Johnson QC, opened the case for the prosecution.

The defendant's parents and other relatives sat below the public gallery behind the dock.

Mr Johnson said the fatal incident on Gorse Bank Road in Hale Barns, happened around 6.35pm on March 2, with the emergency services called "very soon" afterwards.

But when police arrived both Boy A and Boy B lied to the officers, telling them they had not seen what happened and suggested a small car had been seen nearby at the time.

The jury heard earlier that day Boy B had called another youth who agreed to supply an eighth of cannabis for £45.

Around 4pm, Yousef and the defendants were recorded on CCTV at The Square Shopping centre and Booths Supermarket in Hale Barns before walking to the meeting to pick up the drugs along a dirt track nearby.

Around 5pm the dealer pulled up in a grey VW Polo and saw Boy B was wearing an all-black tracksuit and carrying a Louis Vuitton man-bag.

Boy A was also dressed in black and a third youth, Yousef, wearing glasses, a black North Face jacket and grey Stone Island cargo pants was on a black road bike.

The dealer wound down his car window with both defendants standing by the side of the car, Boy A closest, with Yousef standing a few metres further back on a patch of mud.

The dealer got the impression Boy B was shocked he had turned up with two others in the car.

He also thought the defendants had been smoking cannabis.

Boy B asked for the cannabis he had ordered but said he did not have the means to pay but the dealer refused to hand over the drugs.

Boy A then began to pull at the driver's door, ordering him out of the car, but Boy B and Yousef then rode off on their bicycles.

Mr Johnson continued: "As the other two rode away, the drug dealer noticed Boy A was reaching into the waistband of his trousers.

"The dealer thought he was reaching for a knife.

"As events later proved, notably, Boy A's knife had a belt attachment on it."

The two other youths got out of the car and Boy A was taken to the ground and punched before they were called off and he managed to run away, leaving his "very expensive" bike behind, which was thrown over a nearby hedge.

Shortly after the dealer, driving away, saw Yousef, asking him, "why were you trying to rob me" - and was told it was Boy B's idea.

Boy B later rang the dealer to apologise for trying to rob him, saying he thought the dealer was someone else who would be an easy target.

Jurors were told they will be shown grainy CCTV still images of "some sort of confrontation" between the defendants.

Mr Johnson continued: "The prosecution say that having set up the robbery, Boy B had fled at the first sign of trouble, leaving Boy A to take a beating.

"That in itself would be a fairly good reason for them to fall out. Boy A's expensive bike had been thrown over a hedge - again that may have been the reason or part of the reason."

Michael Bowman, who works as a security patrol officer, was sitting in his car on Gorse Bank Road, around 500 metres away from the three teenagers, who were having "some form of altercation" and decided to intervene.

He pulled up alongside Boy A, who said: "I need your help, my mate's been stabbed."

Yousef was leaning against a tree while Boy B made the first call to the ambulance service, timed at 6.36pm.

Mr Bowman saw Yousef was bleeding and appeared to be "out of it".

He asked Boy A who was responsible, to which he replied: "Grey hatchback, top of the road."

Mr Bowman applied pressure to Yousef's wound as Boy A began crying, panicking and shouting, "come on mate, come on bruv".

Boy A helped Mr Bowman by putting pressure on Yousef's wound as a small crowd gathered.

Both defendants told a witness they had come round the corner to see Yousef "just lying there".

Police and an ambulance arrived and a local resident, a heart surgeon, performed an emergency operation in the back of the ambulance.

But Yousef could not be saved and died from a single stab wound to the chest.

A police officer who attended the scene asked Boy A what had happened. He replied: "Yousef has walked ahead, he's fallen and he was just started coughing up blood, it was all over him. I took off my shirt and put pressure on it."

The officer pressed him on how the injury occurred, the jury heard.

Boy A replied: "I don't know. I just came round the corner and he had been stabbed. As we come round the corner a car just drove off."

He told police the car was possibly a silver VW Polo and he suggested a possible motive for the stabbing was robbery.

Mr Johnson said this was Boy A "callously" using a real event, his own attempt to rob the drug dealer, as an explanation for what had happened to Yousef.

He was hoping to lead police on a "false trail" but later admitted those lies and has pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice, the court was told.

Boy B told police he was "distracted" by his mobile phone and did not see Yousef being stabbed - and made no mention of the bungled drugs deal.

Both boys were arrested on suspicion of murder.

The next day, Boy A gave a statement to police, prepared with his solicitor, claiming self-defence.

In it he said he had gone out the day before with Yousef and Boy B and Yousef had brought along two knives. He did not mention a drugs deal but said he had been beaten up by two youths and he was upset with Boy B, who had abandoned him.

Then Yousef had called him a "pussy".

Boy A continued: "I was upset and pushed Yousef with my open palm because as far as I was concerned that was the end of the matter.

"Yousef is very hot-tempered. He's also a few inches taller than me. He can be violent. Yousef pulled his knife out. He swung at me with his fist, striking me on the left side of my head. He shouted, 'come on then', or words to that effect. I was terrified. He came towards me. I pulled the knife Yousef had given me.

"I moved my arm forwards with the knife in my hand. I think he came on to the knife which must have made things worse.

"I was acting in self-defence. We both realised what had happened. I became upset. I started crying and I was walking up and down the road. I then realised it was serious. Yousef was coughing up blood. I took off clothing and ripped open my T-shirt to push it against the wound.

"In panic and whilst we were waiting, me and Boy B agreed to make up a story about Yousef being attacked whilst we were round the corner.

"At some point I hid the two knives behind near a bush - I don't know what happened to Yousef's knife.

"I am absolutely devastated and I am in shock."

But this account was not "anything like" the truth, Mr Johnson said.