Inquest told teenager cleared of stabbing Yousef Makki lied to protect himself

  • Anna Youssef reports from Stockport Coroner's Court

A man who fatally stabbed his school friend has broken down in court and admitted his actions were in his words "pretty disgusting".

Seventeen year old Yousef Makki died in March 2019 after Joshua Molnar stabbed him in the heart during a row in Hale Barns in Greater Manchester.

Former public school boy Molnar, now 22, was warned by the coroner he must tell the truth or risk committing perjury as he began his evidence at Stockport Coroner's Court.

Molnar told a jury a row developed with his friend Yousef Makki and he acted in self-defence in stabbing him in the heart on March 2, 2019.

Joshua Molnar admitted he had lied to protect himself Credit: PA

He was cleared of murder and manslaughter following a trial later that year at Manchester Crown Court but was jailed for perverting the course of justice - by lying to police at the scene - and carrying a knife in public.

A second inquest into Yousef's death is being held with a new coroner after the High Court quashed the conclusions of the first in November 2021 and ordered a fresh one.

Yousef's family had challenged the first coroner's finding that there was not enough evidence relating to the "central issue" of whether the killing was unlawful.

Molnar and Adam Chowdhary, both from wealthy Cheshire families had been "hanging out" on their bikes with their mutual friend Yousef, from Burnage, in Manchester,

Yousef had won a scholarship to £12,000-a-year Manchester Grammar School.

All three boys were 17 at the time.

Coroner Geraint Williams said he wanted to ask Molnar about "certain parts" of his account of how Yousef was stabbed.

He highlighted alleged inconsistencies between what Molnar had said to police and witnesses and in a statement prepared with his solicitor and during his trial for murder and during the first inquest.

Molnar initially told police Yousef had given him the flick knife used in the stabbing, one of an identical pair purchased online by Chowdhary.

Adam Choudhray gives evidence at the second inquest into Yousef Makki's death Credit: PA

But at the first inquest Molnar said he had grabbed or taken the knife from Chowdhary.

Mr Williams said: "I do understand that the passage of time dims memories, but this must have been the single most dramatic, traumatic time in your young life.

"Many people would say that's going to be frozen in your memory."

Mr Williams asked if his not being able to remember details of what happened was to avoid answering questions.

Molnar said: "There's lots of missing time in my mind. It is not that I'm trying to avoid questions. I'm trying. It's not something that's left me."

Molnar told his trial Makki insulted him and punched him and he pushed him back and Yousef pulled his knife out.

He then took his knife out and moved his arm forward in self-defence motion to push him away and then Yousef "came on to the knife".

The court heard this was at odds with his evidence at the first inquest where Molnar said he could not remember who first pulled out a knife and that he had punched Yousef first.

Mr Williams said: "Are you just making this up as you go along, to try to show you are under attack and needed to defend yourself?"

At this point Molnar's lawyer, Lisa Judge, interjected to say: "If there's a suggestion of lying, that would be perjury."

Mr Williams continued: "What I'm suggesting is you are increasing detail of what happened to show Mr Makki was being more aggressive. You are lying to demonstrate you acted in self-defence?"

Molnar replied: "It was not lies. At no point was I lying. I can't remember the events. End of."

The inquest heard evidence from Chowdhary that after the stabbing, as he bled to death on the street, Yousef got the knife out of his pocket and handed it to Chowdhary who put it down a grid.

Mr Williams said: "I'm wondering if it's at all feasible somebody stabbed through the heart would retract the blade and put it in his pocket?"

Ms Judge, for Molnar again interjected: "It is inappropriate for this witness to answer this question. It is supposition."

Molnar was then asked why he disposed of his own knife in a bush along with a penknife he was also carrying.

Overcome with tears he replied: "My actions at the time are pretty disgusting with lots of things I did.

"Although there was a definite worry for my friend when I found out what happened, I can't deny there was also a sliver of also wanting to help myself as shown by me lying at the scene."

Asked why instead of at first suggesting others were responsible he did not tell the truth to police, who were scrambled to the scene of the stabbing, Molnar replied: "My first thought was to lie because I was scared.

"After that, it's a mix of scared and I had already dug a hole for myself. I was a very stupid 17-year-old. All I knew was someone else was hurt and I played a role in that, so I was scared."

Yousef Makki's family campaigned for a second inquest Credit: PA

Peter Weatherby KC, representing the Makki family, suggested the truth was Molnar was rowing with Chowdhary and Yousef stepped in the middle as a peacemaker.

He continued: "Then in temper you pulled the flick knife Adam had given you and stabbed Yousef. You moved towards him with the knife and stabbed him?"

"No," Molnar replied.

Ms Judge suggested Molnar had not changed his account of what happened and the witness agreed if he had lied he understood he faced the "jeopardy" of another criminal trial.

She asked Molnar to close his eyes and try to put himself back in the moment to remember in his mind's eye what he could see and how he felt after being told Yousef had died.

She continued: "I'm not allowed to put words in your mouth. Are you devastated? Are you horrified? Are you upset? Tell the court how you felt."

The coroner interjected: "Miss Judge, this is not a theatre."

Molnar replied: "Obviously devastated. Horrified. Bad. Terrible."

Miss Judge said: "But with regards to self defence, do you maintain you only did what was proportionate and necessary in the circumstances in order to deal with the threat that you perceived?"

"Yes," Molnar replied.

Molnar was jailed for 16 months for perverting the course of justice and carrying a knife in public.

Chowdhary was found not guilty of perverting the course of justice and given a four-month detention order after admitting having the knife.

The hearing was adjourned until Friday for final legal submissions to the coroner.