A teenager who was cleared of murdering Yousef Makki, the 17-year-old killed by a single stab wound to the heart in Hale Barns in March, can be named today for the first time.
Media outlets had until today been prevented from naming Josh Molnar – known only as Boy A during the trial – after Mr Justice Bryan, the judge who presided over the case, imposed reporting restrictions as the defendant was only 17.
But on September 18th, the Sunday Times newspaper successfully applied to have the ban lifted with effect from today, ahead of Molnar’s 18th birthday this Tuesday when he would normally lose the right to anonymity.
Molnar can therefore be revealed today as a white Anglo-Hungarian with “mild learning difficulties” from an affluent family in Hale.
His mother Stephanie, the co-founder of a successful chain of nurseries, and father Mark have given what they say is their only interview to the Sunday Times today.
In it, Stephanie says: “As parents, Mark and I have spent every waking hour since those events trying to understand what we could have done better, throughout Josh’s life, to have encouraged better choices to be made in the years leading up to that night.”
It was back in July that a jury controversially cleared Josh Molnar of the murder and manslaughter of Manchester Grammar School pupil Yousef, with his defence team successfully arguing that Molnar had acted in self-defence.
Molnar did admit to the lesser charges of perverting the course of justice, and he and a second 17-year-old boy, who must still be known only as Boy B, also pleaded guilty to possessing flick knives.
Molnar was sentenced to a 16-month detention training order – 12 months for perverting the course of justice, and four months for possession of the knife. Boy B received a detention and training order for four months for possession of a knife. Sentencing, judge Mr Justice Bryan said both would “live with your decisions that day and the consequences for the rest of your lives”.
Molnar is likely to serve only eight months of his sentence, meaning he will be released in early 2020.
In today’s interview with the Sunday Times, Josh’s mother Stephanie says that her son was “no different than any other 17-year-old in the area”.
“Nobody can know the detail of everything that your kids get up to. All you can do is rely on them to make positive choices based on the values that have been instilled in them throughout their upbringing.”
She adds: “Friends have been incredibly supportive, but there is a lot of hatred out there, often from people who haven’t got possession of the facts but are basing opinions on the myths in the newspapers and on social media.”
The interview states that Josh Molnar had not been in education at the time of Yousef’s death, having been withdrawn from Wilmslow High School in late 2018 after being caught at school with cannabis. He had previously attended Cheadle Hulme School and Ellesmere College in Shropshire.
Despite the privileged backgrounds of both the defendants, the trial revealed that they spoke and acted like “middle class gangsters”, with Molnar posting videos on social media posing with his “shanks” or knives.
In a separate statement released by Stephanie today, she says that “there were no winners in this case” and that her son “will have to live with the responsibility of his role in this for the rest of his life”.
She does maintain however that her son killed Yousef “accidentally” and “whilst defending himself against a knife”, the latter a claim made by her son during the trial.
She said: “Circumstances on the night of 2 March led to our son Joshua accidentally killing his friend Yousef with a knife whilst defending himself against a knife. He was found not guilty to the charges of murder and manslaughter, based on self-defence, in a unanimous verdict.
“The events of that night were a tragedy. These were three friends going out on a Saturday. They should all still be here to lead fulfilling lives but they are not. I cannot imagine what Yousef’s parents and family must be going through as they try to come to terms with this.
“Joshua fully accepts responsibility for Yousef’s death in the act of self-defence and the impact of this acceptance is massive. He will have to live with the responsibility of his role in this for the rest of his life. We are also acutely aware that the hurt and loss that Yousef’s family is experiencing are infinitely greater than anything we are going through and nothing I can say can make up for or change that.
“There were no winners in this case. The jury heard the evidence over a four-week trial. Every single one of the twelve members of the jury, diverse in age, ethnicity, gender and background, felt not guilty was the right verdict based purely on the evidence. We fully support all the positive steps to celebrate Yousef’s life and anything positive in the future that can come from this tragedy is something we would welcome and contribute to in whatever way possible.”
Responding to Stephanie Molnar’s statement, Yousef’s mother Deborah Makki and sister Jade Akoum said they “did not accept for one moment” that Yousef had been killed accidentally, and that the jury had been “misled”.
They said in a statement: “The utter devastation on our lives is indescribable. The injustice of everything will remain with us forever. Yousef was a bright and caring boy who had only just started to associate himself with these boys, who were not in any sense his “best friends”.
“Yousef has been cruelly taken away from us and we still have to hear about allegations of him handling a knife, which are totally untrue.
“The jury were misled about this and so many other matters, including about Joshua Molnar, who filmed himself sat in a toilet at Manchester Crown Court making stabbing motions to drill music during the trial.
“We do not accept for one moment that Yousef’s death was merely an accident. A jury was not sure that the Crown Prosecution Service had disproved Joshua Molnar’s claim of self-defence, but no more or less can be inferred from their decision. Together with our legal, campaign and investigation teams, we are exploring all avenues for ensuring that we achieve Justice for Yousef. In his memory, we will not rest until we have done so.
“We miss Yousef every second of every day. The past seven months have been so traumatic and heartbreaking for us all. We have never seen a shred of true remorse from Joshua Molnar, or the person known for the time being as ‘Boy B’.”
An application by Yousef’s family to refer the sentences handed out Molnar and Boy B to the Court of Appeal was refused in August, but his sister Jade say they “will not rest until we have justice”.