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Teenager cleared of murdering grammar school friend with flick knife

UK News | Published:

Yousef Makki died after being stabbed in heart on a tree-lined street in the upmarket village of Hale Barns, Cheshire.

A teenager has been cleared of the murder of his grammar schoolboy friend with a flick knife.

The boy, aged 17, stabbed Yousef Makki, also 17, in the heart with a knife on a tree-lined street in the upmarket village of Hale Barns, Cheshire, popular with footballers and celebrities.

Yousef, from a single-parent Anglo-Lebanese family from Burnage, south Manchester, had won a scholarship to the prestigious £12,000-a-year Manchester Grammar School.

The defendant, boy A, and another boy, 17, boy B, both from wealthy Cheshire families, were cleared of all charges following a four-week trial at Manchester Crown Court.

Neither of the defendants can be named as they are aged under 18.

Yousef Makki funeral
The coffin of Yousef is carried from the Dar Al Hadi Foundation, in Manchester (PA)

Despite the privileged backgrounds of both defendants, they led “double lives”.

Calling each other “Bro” and “Fam” and the police “Feds”, the defendants and Yousef smoked cannabis, road around on bikes, “chilling” and listened to rap or drill music.

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They would post videos on social media, making threats and posing with “shanks” or knives.

Boy A denied murder on March 2, claiming he acted in self-defence.

He admitted perverting the course of justice by lying to police and possession of a flick knife.

Boy B, was cleared of perverting the course of justice by allegedly lying to police about what he had seen but also admitted possession of a flick knife.

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Both were also cleared of conspiracy to commit robbery in the lead up to Yousef’s death.

Both defendants still face sentencing for possession of the flick knives, purchased by boy B from an app called Wish, and boy A also faces sentence for perverting the course of justice.

The court heard the background to the fatal stabbing on Gorse Bank Road, Hale Barns, was that hours earlier, Boy B arranged a £45 cannabis deal and the teenagers planned to rob the drug dealer, a “soft target”.

But the robbery went wrong and Yousef and Boy B fled, leaving Boy A to take a beating.

Boy A then later pushed Yousef who called him a “pussy” and punched him in the face.

He told the jury Yousef pulled out a knife and he responded by also taking out a knife and his victim was accidentally stabbed.

Boy A broke down in tears telling the jury: “I have got more annoyed. I have taken it out straight away, I don’t really know what I did, kind of lifted my arm up.

“I didn’t realise anything had happened at first.”

As the victim lay dying, the panicking defendants hid the knives in bushes and down a drain, dialled 999 and desperately tried to staunch the blood pouring out of Yousef’s chest wound.

A local man passing by, a heart surgeon, performed emergency surgery in the back of an ambulance but Yousef suffered catastrophic blood loss.

They told police scrambled to the scene they had found Yousef stabbed and suggested others were responsible.

The jury also saw social media videos of Boy A posing and brandishing knives and machetes.

Nicholas Johnson QC, prosecuting, said the videos showed him “acting out something that ultimately led to the death of Yousef Makki”.

“He was too quick to reach for his knife and too quick to use it, probably because it was a move he had practised for so long.

“It was a petulant, malicious response of a wannabe hardman who had lost face and could not get his own way.”

Jurors also heard from another youngster who said at a house party he was beaten by a gang of boys including Boy A, who then pulled out a knife.

A second youth present at the time, told the jury: “I don’t think many of the people in that situation had experienced that, I think everyone was shocked by the situation and stopped what they were doing.”

Alastair Webster QC, defending boy A, described the videos as “ridiculous” and told the jury it was just juvenile “Middle class gangsters” striking poses.

He added: “In my day you went around with long hair calling everyone ‘man’.

“Now it seems everyone wants to play a New York City gangster. Middle class gangsters.

“If they were dropped off in one of the rougher areas of Manchester … It’s fine being a gangster in Cheshire.”

After a 45-minute break in proceedings court reconvened and Mr Justice Bryan said he would sentence both defendants on July 25 after the preparation of pre-sentence reports.

He said both defendants will be granted bail until then.

Mr Webster said: “In the corridor outside the court there has been serious threats made against my client and his family in the presence of the police.”

Press and the public were then excluded from the courtroom while a bail address for boy A was discussed.

A statement released by the family of boy A, said: “Obviously we welcome the verdicts. The jury came to proper conclusions on the evidence.

“There are, however, no winners in this case.

“Yousef’s death was a tragedy and our son will have to live with the responsibility of his role for the rest of his life.

“But the Makki family’s loss and hurt are infinitely greater.

“Nothing we can say can make up for that or change it.”

Detective Chief Inspector Colin Larkin, of Greater Manchester Police’s Major Incident Team, said: “Although we are disappointed in today’s verdict, we must respect the decision of the jury.

“In losing their son, Yousef’s mum and dad have been faced with every parent’s worst nightmare, and we have specialist officers continuing to support Yousef’s family as they come to terms with the verdict.

“I know people in the community may be shocked and upset, but I would urge people to be respectful of Yousef’s family and their feelings as they come to terms with today’s conclusion.

“Our main focus will be providing support to the family and we will be engaging with the Crown Prosecution Service over the coming day to consider the next steps to take with our investigation.”

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