- Josh Molnar, 22, admits fatally stabbing Yousef Makki through the heart in 2019
The killer of Yousef Makki was challenged over whether he was ‘lying’ about his claim the public schoolboy had a knife, to justify self-defence.
Josh Molnar was asked about why he had changed his account of what happened, to allege Yousef was ‘more aggressive’ – better-supporting his claim.
The 22-year-old admits stabbing Yousef Makki through the heart during a confrontation in 2019 and lying to police afterwards, accepting his behaviour was ‘disgusting’.
But, in a criminal trial and a first inquest, he said he acted because his friend brandished a knife at him.
Questioned today during a new inquest into the tragedy, Molnar was asked by coroner Geraint Williams to account for how he gave different versions of events.
These included him saying in evidence this morning that he took the flick knife used to stab 17-year-old Yousef from the pair’s mutual friend Adam Chowdhary. In the trial and first inquest, he said he’d been given the weapon by Yousef.
Chowdhary, also now 21, has admitted buying two identical flick knives online.
Mr Williams said to Molnar: ‘If Yousef had given you the knife, there is no way he could have come at you with it.’
Molnar replied the boys had two flick knives between them and said Yousef – a scholarship pupil at prestigious Manchester Grammar School who wanted to be a heart surgeon – had both blades when the trio initially met on the day of the tragedy, on March 2, 2019.
Turning to the incident itself, which happened soon after 6.30pm in the wealthy Manchester suburb of Hale Barns, Mr Williams referred to the evidence of security guard Michael Bowman, who was parked on the street where the stabbing happened, on a meal break.
Mr Williams said: ‘He says there were three men all together, all pushing and shoving’. Is that what happened?
Molnar replied: ‘Er, no. At no point were the three of us close.’
He said Mr Bowman could have mistakenly thought Chowdhary was with them because it was ‘dark’ and he was some distance away.
Mr Williams then asked: ‘It wasn’t two on one, as he described?’
Molnar replied: ‘Yeah, one hundred per cent.’
Molnar has always said he and Yousef had argued, Yousef called him a ‘p***y’ for wanting to go home after he had been beaten up by drug dealers and his expensive bike thrown over a fence earlier that afternoon, before Yousef punched him and pulled out his knife.
He was challenged on further differences between his accounts, including saying he ‘pushed’ Yousef when on trial in July 2019 but later saying he threw a punch at his friend when quizzed at the first inquest in November 2021.
Molnar claimed details had become ‘mixed up’ over time.
But Mr Williams said: ‘Are you just making this up as you go along to show you were under attack and had to defend yourself?’
After Molnar’s barrister Lisa Judge said her client should be warned against incriminating himself, the coroner asked him if he was altering his account ‘to show Mr Makki was being more aggressive, that you are lying to demonstrate that’s why you acted in self-defence?’
Molnar replied: ‘I wasn’t lying. All I can say is I’ve tried to explain it as best as I can on multiple occasions. If there’s a difference, I can only put it down to an issue with my memory.’
Mr Williams then suggested to Molnar – who had already ‘snatched’ Chowdhary’s jacket as a surety until his bike was found – that he may have been ‘getting annoyed about what’s happened’ as he walked up the street.
The coroner continued: ‘Mr Makki is trying to prevent you going home, he’s goading you, calling you a ‘p***y’. Something then happens and there’s a stabbing.
‘Can I suggest the following. Mr Makki didn’t pull a knife. He didn’t hit you. He may well have been goading you and upsetting you, then you pull a knife. Can I suggest you get the knife out, telling him ‘f*** off, I’m going home’, can I suggest that’s when the stabbing occurs, that Mr Makki’s done nothing to provoke you other than goading you?’
Molnar said: ‘I did nothing of the sort. I don’t think that makes sense.
‘At the time I blamed Adam more than anyone else (for what happened) and I did nothing (to him) other than take the jacket.’
Asked if he remembered pulling the knife first, he said: ‘It’s not that I’ve never known but the details have left me.’
Mr Williams also voiced doubt on Chowdhary’s claim when giving evidence yesterday that Yousef had retracted the blade of a flick knife he was supposedly carrying, pulled it from his pocket and handed it to him to dispose.
He said: ‘I wonder if it’s at all feasible that someone who’s been stabbed through the heart would retract the blade and put it in his pocket.’
Ms Judge, for Molnar, said there has been evidence in previous cases where people have moved ’90 metres’ with a mortal wound.
Molnar, who also had a flick knife with him at the time, claimed he carried knives because he thought it ‘cool’ and to increase his confidence after he’d been robbed previously.
Although he admitted telling separate lies to police – claiming the attack on Yousef was from a passing car, then by ‘four black men from Manchester, and that he and Chowdhary had walked round a corner and found Yousef injured – he said he did so because he ‘panicked’ and because of ‘a sliver of also wanting to help myself’.
Although in previous statements, he said he and Chowdhary had agreed stories, he denied a suggestion from Mr Williams that they ‘cooked up’ stories.
But Molnar added: ‘My actions at the time were disgusting. Although there was a definite worry for my friend when I found out what happened, I can’t deny there was still a sliver of also wanting to help myself in some way or other, as shown by me lying at the scene.’
Molnar and Chowdhary, both from wealthy families, went on trial at Manchester Crown Court in June 2019 with Molnar acquitted of murder and manslaughter on grounds of self-defence, and Chowdhary cleared of lying to police.
The following month, Molnar, now of Knutsford, Cheshire, was sentenced to 16 months’ detention after admitting lying to police and possessing an offensive weapon. Chowdhary, of Hale Barns, was locked up for four months for possessing an offensive weapon.
The inquest, being held at Stockport Coroner’s Court and due to last all week, continues.
Mr Williams suggested Molnar was ‘disingenuous’ when he told police he disposed of the knives ‘into a bush’ – but had actually dumped the flick knife over a wall on one side of the road and his clasp knife into a garden on the other side.
Molnar said he could not remember why, adding: ‘There wasn’t some convoluted scheme to place them in different locations’.
Asked why he did not tell the truth about what happened, Molnar said his ‘first thought was to lie’ and he had ‘dug himself a hole’.
Molnar was accused by Yousef’s family of ‘painting a false picture’ because he knew Yousef ‘could not speak for himself’.
He denied he had changed his account to suggest Yousef had injured him when he threw a punch.
Pete Weatherby KC, representing Yousef’s relatives, suggested to Molnar, now 22, that he ‘knew Yousef had died and could not speak for himself’ and had ‘painted a false picture of where you got the knife and of Yousef’.
Molnar – who appeared tearful at times – said: ‘I tried to be as honest as I could at each stage of the process.’
He denied a suggestion from Mr Weatherby that in a statement to police after Yousef’s death, he was ‘putting it back on’ Yousef, concerning who had the knives.
Molnar also denied that Yousef later ran up to Molnar and Chowdhary to ‘act as peacemaker’.
Mr Weatherby asked Molnar: ‘You moved towards him with the knife and stabbed him didn’t you?’
‘No,’ replied Molnar.
Questioned by his own barrister Lisa Judge, Molnar agreed that ‘most’ people he hung out with at the time smoked cannabis.
But he admitted this was ‘stupid, irresponsible’ and also criminal.
Molnar agreed that there had been no earlier acrimony between him and Yousef, who had been helping him to find the missing bike.
Molnar said he had ‘sporadic or jigsaw like memories of the evening’ but was telling the truth to the inquest to the best of his ability.
Ms Judge began asking a series of questions about how Molnar felt about Yousef’s death – to which Mr Williams interjected: ‘This is not a theatre’.
Molnar said he felt ‘devastated, horrible, I don’t think there’s many words that can explain… terrible’ – but agreed with Ms Judge who said his actions were ‘necessary and proportionate to deal with the threat as (he) perceived it’.
The inquest is due to conclude with final submissions on Friday and Mr Williams set to give his conclusion on Wednesday.