Yousef Makki: Unlawful killing conclusion at second inquest

26 October 2023

Yousef Makki inquest

After a four-and-a-half year struggle, the family of Yousef Makki have finally achieved a measure of justice. On 2 March 2019, Yousef, aged 17, was fatally stabbed in the street by an associate, Joshua Molnar. Mr Molnar was acquitted of murder having asserted that he acted in self-defence, and the subsequent first inquest failed to return a conclusion as to what happened.

Whereas the criminal process is aimed at liability, and is determined on the basis that a case must be proven beyond reasonable doubt, an inquest is the method by which the state determines how a person died, and the findings of a coroner (or jury) are on the balance of probabilities.

Although the first inquest heard a sufficiency of evidence, HM Senior Coroner for Greater Manchester South held that she could not reach conclusions even to the lower standard. The family challenged this by way of judicial review, and the High Court held that the Senior Coroner had failed to analyse the evidence and the lack of conclusions was unreasonable in the Wednesbury sense. The High Court quashed the inquisition and ordered a fresh inquest before a different coroner.

On 25 October 2023, having heard the evidence afresh, HMC Geraint Williams concluded that Yousef had been unlawfully killed. In reaching that conclusion he made a series of forthright findings including that Mr Molnar had not acted in self-defence, Yousef had not brandished a knife as alleged or at all, and at no time had acted aggressively towards Mr Molnar or anyone else. He also found that a third young man, Adam Chowdhary, was involved at the scene although not responsible for the stabbing (no one had suggested he was). Mr Chowdhary had maintained that he had not seen what occurred, an account rejected by the Coroner who found him to be an ‘unimpressive witness’, and that he was and remains ‘somewhat afraid’ of Mr Molnar. This meant that ‘his evidence in some part is not to be relied upon’.

The conclusion of the Inquest and the findings of the Coroner are of great importance to the family. The tragedy of losing Yousef, a talented student destined to become a doctor, had been compounded by the narrative that he had been the author of his own death. That has now been resolved.

In commenting to the media, the family have raised whether Yousef’s case might have been dealt with differently if all involved had been from the same background: an uncomfortable assertion raising questions of structural discrimination in the justice system.

In the aftermath of the inquest conclusion, GMP have issued a statement that they will now review the evidence, together with the CPS, to see whether any further investigation or action should follow.

Pete Weatherby KC acted for the family at both inquests and in the High Court, leading Matthew Stanbury, instructed by Sarah Finney of Watson Woodhouse Solicitors.

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