A teenage grammar school boy who was stabbed in the heart with a flick knife was unlawfully killed, a coroner has concluded.
Ex-public schoolboy Joshua Molnar, now aged 22, was cleared of the murder and manslaughter of his friend Yousef Makki, 17, after a trial at Manchester Crown Court in July 2019.
Molnar told the jury he acted in self-defence after Yousef pulled a blade on him first and “came on” to his knife, during a row in upmarket Hale Barns, near Altrincham, Greater Manchester, on March 2 2019.
At an inquest in November 2021 a coroner concluded she could not be sure what happened but ruled out accident or unlawful killing.
The High Court later quashed the findings and ordered a second inquest with a new coroner, which concluded on Wednesday.
In a lengthy ruling, coroner Geraint Williams concluded that Yousef did not have a knife at the time of his death as claimed, and Molnar had not acted in self-defence and did not believe he needed to use a knife to defend himself.
Mr Williams said: “I find as a fact Yousef Makki did not use a knife to threaten or attack Joshua Molnar.
“I also find use of a knife unnecessary, disproportionate and unreasonable. I conclude he did not act in lawful self-defence.
“Therefore, I conclude that Mr Makki was unlawfully killed is fully made out by the evidence.”
Jade Akoum, Yousef’s sister, was hugged by her husband Mazen as the conclusion was delivered.
Their lawyer, Peter Weatherby KC, thanked the coroner, saying it had been “a very long journey” for the family.
While a jury in a criminal trial must be sure beyond reasonable doubt of guilt, at an inquest a coroner can make conclusions based on the lower standard of using a balance of probabilities.
Inquest rules mean coroners are not allowed to apportion blame to named individuals.
Molnar admitted lying in panic about what happened after the stabbing and lawyers for the Makki family highlighted many “discrepancies” in his account of how Yousef was stabbed.
Molnar told the jury at his trial that the two had had a row and that Yousef had pulled a knife out first so Molnar took his out and his friend “came on” to the weapon, causing the fatal injury.
At the first inquest he said he could not remember who took a knife out first.
Another youth, Adam Chowdhary, was with the pair at the time. He said he did not see what happened because he was on his phone. Chowdhary had bought the flick knives online.
Yousef, from Burnage, Manchester, became friends with the pair, both from wealthy Cheshire families, after winning a scholarship to £12,000-a-year Manchester Grammar School. All three were 17 at the time.
Molnar admitted “pretty disgusting” behaviour by lying after the stabbing to protect himself, but maintained he acted in self-defence.
Lisa Judge, representing Molnar, said he had admitted he panicked and lied to police, for which he had been jailed.
But she said any inconsistencies in his account of the stabbing four years ago were a result of trauma and “fracturing memories”.
Mr Weatherby said Molnar was lying and suggested Yousef did not have or brandish a knife.
Molnar’s trial heard that Yousef’s death was “an accident waiting to happen”, he and Chowdhary being “rich kids who have never had to live in the real world”.
They called each other “Bro” and “Fam”, acting out “idiotic fantasies” of being “middle class gangsters” by messing around with knives, smoking cannabis and listening to drill music, the jury was told.
Molnar was jailed for 16 months for carrying a knife in public and perverting the course of justice after initially lying to police.
Chowdhary, now 21, did not give evidence at Molnar’s murder trial. He was found not guilty of perverting the course of justice and given a four-month detention order after admitting having a knife in public.
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.
The family is to hold a press conference later.