The family of a 17-year-old boy who was fatally stabbed have won their fight to have a fresh inquest into his death. Joshua Molnar stabbed Yousef Makki with a knife during a row in Hale Barns, Greater Manchester, in March 2019. He was cleared of manslaughter and murder.
An inquest later ruled out both unlawful killing and accidental death and recorded a narrative conclusion. Yousef’s family were last year granted a judicial review, which has now quashed the original findings.
Alison Mutch, senior coroner for Greater Manchester South, had concluded she could not be sure of the “precise sequence of events” leading to Yousef’s death. But the High Court, sitting in Manchester, has rejected that conclusion.
Lady Justice Macur and Mr Justice Fordham handed down their ruling and directed a fresh inquest be held before a different coroner. Yousef’s family, from Burnage, Manchester, were granted permission for a judicial review last year.
They challenged Ms Mutch’s assertion that there was insufficient evidence on the “central issue” of whether Yousef’s killing had been unlawful. During his trial, Manchester Crown Court heard Molnar, who was 17 at time of the stabbing, had claimed self-defence and told the jury that knives were produced after an argument broke out with his friend.
The court heard Molnar, Yousef and another youth – Adam Chowdhary – had all carried knives that night. Molnar was subsequently 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.
At the original inquest, lawyers for the Makki family argued the coroner could still conclude Yousef had been unlawfully killed, even though Molnar had been cleared of murder and manslaughter. They said this was because the burden of proof in inquests was much lower than in criminal cases.
In the former, the case only has to be proven “in the balance of probabilities” as opposed to “beyond reasonable doubt”.
Alistair Webster, QC, representing Molnar at the inquest, said Yousef’s death had simply been a “terrible accident”. Outside court following news that the fresh inquest had been granted, Yousef’s sister Jade Akoum said she was “overwhelmed” since she had been expecting bad news.
She said: “They have given us another opportunity and hope… to shine a light on what happened. Yousef deserves this – we will carry on. Yousef’s family have set up the Yousef Makki Foundation to help underprivileged young people in education in Greater Manchester.
“Despite being from humble beginnings, Yousef was lucky enough to attend Manchester Grammar School on a full bursary scholarship and wished to become a heart surgeon after university,” the family said when they launched it in March. They said they believed Yousef would have wanted them to do something positive in his name.
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