A 17-year-old boy has been dramatically cleared of murdering a private school pupil in an affluent suburb of Greater Manchester.
The teenager, who cannot be named, was accused of stabbing to death his friend Yousef Makki, 17, following a botched attempt to rob a drug dealer.
There were angry scenes in Manchester crown court as the defendant, referred to as Boy A, was found not guilty of both murder and manslaughter.
Makki’s father, Ghaleb Makki, exploded in fury and shouted expletives as the judge cleared the courtroom. “Where’s the justice for my son? Where’s the justice?” he asked. Another voice was heard saying “Are you joking?” as the not guilty verdicts were returned. Makki later reportedly collapsed in the public gallery.
Boy A puffed out his cheeks and closed his eyes as he was acquitted before hugging his tearful family. A second 17-year-old, Boy B, was cleared of perverting the course of justice by allegedly lying to police about what he had seen.
The trial heard that Makki was stabbed in the heart with a flick knife after getting into an argument with his friends in the upmarket Cheshire village of Hale Barns, a suburb popular with footballers and television stars.
Makki, who came from an Anglo-Lebanese family and lived in Burnage, had won a scholarship to attend Manchester Grammar school, and had dreamed of becoming a heart surgeon.
On 2 March, Makki was with the two defendants when they allegedly tried to rob a dealer of £45 worth of cannabis on a farm track. However, their attempted robbery failed and Boy A was attacked and had his bicycle thrown over a hedge.
Boy A then later pushed Makki, who called him a “pussy” and punched him in the face, the court heard. The defendant told the jury Makki pulled out a knife and he responded by also taking out a knife, then accidentally stabbed his friend.
Boy A then got rid of the knives before, in a panic, realising how serious the injury was, trying to staunch the blood pouring from his wounded friend’s chest as he lay dying in the street.
Boy A’s barrister, Alastair Webster QC, told the jury that the two teenage defendants led “double lives” and that, despite being from privileged backgrounds, they spoke and acted like “middle class gangsters”.
Calling each other “Bro” and “Fam”, the defendants smoked cannabis, listened to rap or drill music and Boy A posted videos on social media posing with his “shanks” or knives.
Wesbter said: “What’s going on with a whole generation of children with the advantage of good families and good education? They appear to have led double lives, living out idiotic fantasies. Talking in stupid jive talk. Idiotic, juvenile, pathetic, but not sinister – stupid.”
Boy A denied murder claiming he acted in self-defence because Makki had pulled out a knife. 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. Both were also cleared of conspiracy to commit robbery in the lead up to Yousef’s death.
In a statement, Boy A’s family said they welcomed the verdicts and that the jury had come “to a proper conclusion on the evidence”. They added: “There are, however, no winners in this case. Yousef’s death was a tragedy and our son will have to live with his responsibility of his role for the rest of his life.
“But the Makki family’s hurt and loss are infinitely greater. Nothing we can say can make up for that or change it.”
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