Yousef Makki: Death of teen stabbed in chest was 'not unlawful killing', coroner rules

Rob Smith has the latest on the Yousef Makki inquest.

A 'narrative conclusion' has been recorded at an inquest on Yousef Makki, the 17-year-old who was stabbed by a friend in Greater Manchester. 

Lawyers for Yousef's family had argued for a finding of unlawful killing, but the coroner said she could not be satisfied that was the case, on the evidence the inquest had heard.

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 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 Credit: PA

Lawyers for the Makki family had urged Alison Mutch, senior coroner for Greater Manchester South, that because the standard of proof in criminal trial is "beyond reasonable doubt" while the standard during inquests is lower, being "on the balance of probabilities", she 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".

At the end of the inquest, lasting seven days, Ms Mutch told Stockport Coroner's Court she could not be sure, even on the balance of probabilities, the "precise sequence of events" and ruled out both unlawful killing and accidental death as a conclusion.

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

She added: "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."

Ms Mutch said she will write to the Education Secretary to ask how teenagers' knowledge of the dangers of carrying knives can be improved - having heard in the inquest how carrying a knife was seen as "cool".

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.

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.

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, the jury at the trial was told, was a drug deal gone wrong leading to Molnar being beaten up and his £2,000 bike thrown in a hedge and lost - while Chowdhary fled and Yousef stood by.

Yousef's family claim some matters presented to the jury at the trial were done on a "false premise".

Martin Bottomley, head of the cold case unit at Greater Manchester Police (GMP), conducted a review of the force's investigation and that of previous involvement Cheshire Police had with Molnar during incidents in Wilmslow two weeks before Yousef's death.

He told the inquest that GMP now believed the "pre-cursor event" was not a drugs deal but a revenge attack on Molnar for the previous incident in Wilmslow.

A boy had been set upon and Molnar was arrested and quickly de-arrested and a knife found in a taxi.

Molnar denied any involvement and was never prosecuted but the victim's cousins, two brothers Mohammed and Ibrahim Chaudhry, then attacked him in revenge, the inquest heard.

Chowdhary fled and Yousef stood by - leading to the row between them later that night when Yousef was stabbed.

Both Chaudhry brothers were summonsed to give evidence at the inquest.

They were warned they did not have to answer any questions that might incriminate themselves.

Both declined to answer around 60 questions put to them during the hearing.

Cheshire Police referred themselves to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) over the Wilmslow investigation.

The PA news agency understands Mr Bottomley's review is critical of both the GMP and Cheshire Police investigation. His report has not been made public.

Ms Mutch warned the inquest could not be a rerun of the criminal trial and inquests were not allowed in law to apportion criminal blame.

Peter Weatherby QC, representing the family of Yousef, accused Molnar of lying to save his own skin.

Molnar replied: "No. I did not do that at all."

Sergeant Nicholas Bamber, of GMP, told the inquest that at the crime scene Molnar told "convincing" lies.

Chowdhary told police he did not see what had happened and merely repeated to police at the scene what he was told by Molnar.

He was initially allowed to keep his phone before his status changed, from witness when police first spoke to him, to suspect later that night.

But in between, police found call record logs and other material had been deleted from his phone that police could not recover, the inquest heard.

Adam Chowdary and Yousef Makki

Adam Chowdhary declined to give evidence from the witness box at his trial alongside Molnar.

Molnar said Yousef had taken a knife out but Chowdhary told the inquest he did not see a knife in Yousef's hand after he had been stabbed in the heart.

On the version of events presented in evidence, it means that after being stabbed in the heart Yousef retracted the blade of his flick knife and put it in his pocket.

Then as he lay dying he took the knife out of his pocket again and handed it to Chowdhary for disposal down a grid before police arrived.

John Mulvihill, a now retired GMP detective inspector, told the hearing he was called to the scene to investigate and soon changed the status of Molnar and Chowdhary from witnesses to suspects.

He told the inquest: "It was difficult to comprehend how a knife attack could take place without either boys seeing or hearing anything, given they were in close proximity to Yousef at the time.

"They were clearly lying and had to be treated as suspects."

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.

Molnar admitted possession of a knife and perverting the course of justice by initially lying to police about what had happened, and was given 16 months in custody.

Both were cleared of a charge of conspiracy to robbery.

At a press conference after the inquest, Jade Akoum, Yousef's older sister, said: "The last 32 months have been beyond awful, after our beloved Yousef was stabbed to death by Joshua Molnar.

"Today, however, the coroner returned a narrative conclusion rather than a conclusion of unlawful killing, saying that she was not able to determine the precise circumstances in which Yousef came by his death. To say that we are disappointed is an understatement. We are disgusted.

"Regardless of the outcome today, it is now clear to us from the evidence that was presented in court that Yousef was clearly trying to make peace between Adam Chowdhary and Joshua Molnar and paid for this with his life.

"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 - 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."