The teenager who stabbed Yousef Makki to death can today be named as Joshua Molnar.
His identity no longer has to stay a secret – because this week he turns 18.
It means the full story of how the expensively-educated son of affluent business-people ended up knifing his friend in the heart can be told for the first time.
Former Cheadle Hulme School pupil Molnar is currently serving a sentence in a young offenders institution.
The teenager was unanimously cleared of the murder and manslaughter of Yousef, 17, in July by a jury on the basis of self-defence.
But the former public schoolboy was locked up after he admitted possessing the knife which caused Yousef’s fatal wound, and perverting the course of justice by lying that someone else had inflicted the injury to police.
Josh Molnar’s fateful confrontation with Yousef, on March 2 this year, came after a row over a cannabis deal that went wrong.
It ended the promising life of Yousef Makki, a straight-A student from Burnage who dreamed of becoming a heart surgeon.
And it was the devastating climax of Molnar’s descent from the privileged life of independent schools, designer gifts, expensive holidays and nights out that he had enjoyed as the son of two Hale entrepreneurs.
Now, in a series of special reports, the M.E.N. looks at Josh Molnar’s story in detail; reveals the torment suffered by Yousef Makki’s family; and looks at what could happen next in the late schoolboy’s case.
The lapsing of Molnar’s anonymity order comes as his mother speaks publicly for the first time, describing the events of that night as a ‘tragedy’ – one that her son would have to live with his role in for the rest of his life.
“I cannot imagine what Yousef’s parents and family must be going through as they try to come to terms with this,” Stephanie Molnar told the Manchester Evening News in a statement.
“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,” she said.
Yousef’s death and Josh Molnar’s conviction were highly unusual for the country’s courts because it was knife crime that happened against a backdrop of privilege.
Yousef was the academically gifted boy who won a bursary to one of the country’s best independent schools.
Molnar was his friend from the leafy outer suburbs, who wanted for nothing materially.
But the picture that emerges in this case is one of teenage rebellion and aggressive posturing that somehow got so twisted it made Yousef’s death, as Molnar’s QC put it, an ‘accident waiting to happen’.
By the time Josh Molnar fell out, catastrophically, with his friend Yousef, he had left a series of schools and his relationship with his family was strained.
Against a backdrop of increasing cannabis use, he began living what his own lawyer described as the double, fantasy life of a juvenile, ‘middle class gangster’, ‘playing around with knives’ and getting into fights.
As the son of prominent business people Mark and Stephanie Molnar, from Hale, who divorced several years ago, so much more was expected of him.
Josh Molnar’s father Mark, 56, a maths graduate, is a company director and business consultant, while his mother, Stephanie, 51, co-founded of a chain of Cheshire nurseries.
At the age of 15 Joshua Molnar began using cannabis.
He was not an academic high achiever like his friend Yousef Makki. He saw himself as the class clown.
It was on the rugby field, in school teams and with Altrincham Kersal RFC, where he played for their winning U-16 side, where he expressed himself, and found vent for his aggressive streak.
Cultivating a bad boy image, among other private school kids on the streets and at parties in suburbs like Wilmslow and Hale, provided another escape.
He took to carrying a knife, he has said to protect himself from muggings, and because of peer pressure that made him feel ‘I should be doing that’.
“If I had a pretty cool knife I would show it off a bit,” he told his trial.
Exactly a year before Yousef died, Molnar was a guest at a party.
Held at a £1m property, there was security at the gated entrance and youngsters from Greater Manchester’s independent schools made up the guests.
When a fight broke out Molnar, his trial heard, punched another boy before stepping back and pulling out a knife from his waistband.
Josh Molnar denied having had a knife at this party in his trial.
But young, prosecution witnesses would testify that he seemed to take pleasure in taking out a kitchen knife and – saying nothing – watching as the room fell silent in fear.
The picture that emerges of Josh Molnar, from some who know him, is not of a nice, middle class boy who fell under bad, more streetwise influences.
Rather, he was the bad influence, the one who always took things one step too far.
This is not something that his family would accept. They say Josh was a ‘typical’ teenage boy.
Again and again, throughout Josh Molnar’s trial, he described knives as ‘cool’.
It’s open to question why, when he had the opportunity to provide character witnesses during his trial – his co-defendant provided a succession of glowing testimonials – Molnar didn’t come up with a single reference.
Could it be, that in his most desperate hour of need, that not one person had a good thing to say about him?
He was just five when he left his first private school, Hale Preparatory School, after a show of ‘aggressive behaviour’, the M.E.N. understands.
A source close to the family said he had never been expelled from any school and that he had left Hale Preparatory School because he had ‘struggled with their teaching methods’.
From there he was moved to Bollington Primary School in Altrincham, where he was ‘very happy’, the source said.
But his secondary school career was troubled.
At the £12,000-a-year Cheadle Hulme School, he was considered by some as a flash bully – they recall mundane, high school stuff, like him barging into pupils he didn’t like in the corridors and publishing pictures on his social media of his latest designer purchase.
During his time at CHS he struggled academically, his parents got divorced, and, a source close to his family says, ‘suffered series of family bereavements’.
He left when he was asked to repeat Year 9.
As he got older it seemed he was embarrassed by his comfortable background and determined to kick against it.
The showy pictures stopped, replaced by pictures of cannabis. He sold his designer clothes and started wearing tracksuits.
From there, his parents sent him to Ellesmere College, a boarding school in Shropshire.
In its guide to public schools, writers at society magazine Tatler describe themselves as ‘big fans’ of Ellemere’s approach.
The school has a strong focus on sport and nurturing pupils who aren’t naturally academic high-flyers.
Molnar played rugby for the first team and got six GCSEs, before leaving Ellesmere to be closer to home and moving on to a state comprehensive, Wilmslow High School.
He ended up leaving Wilmslow High – ‘by mutual consent’ – after cannabis was found in his Hugo Boss bag. It had been stolen from him and when it was found drugs were inside, a source close to his family said.
Molnar would tell friends that at times he had run away from home and talked of sleeping in his mother’s car, telling his subsequent trial, pointedly, that while he could pick his friends, ‘I don’t always get on with my family’.
A source close to the family said neither of his parents was aware he had ever run away from home, and that they ‘don’t recall’ him ever sleeping in his mother’s Alfa Romeo.
Any suggestion that he had been allowed to go off the rails, the source said, was ‘complete nonsense’.
However, selfie videos, where he acted out violent scenarios, charted his descent into what his own lawyer would call ‘idiotic fantasies’, fuelled by a love of drill music tracks which glorified the use of knives.
He filmed himself with a machete in the mirror of his bedroom, sniggering as he made violent stabbing motions towards another boy, the point of the blade coming just a few centimetres from his face.
The other boy makes stabbing movements towards Molnar with his own knife as both laugh.
Another clip shows Molnar using a lit firework to light a spliff before tossing it over his shoulder to explode near a car.
The soundtrack is a drill tune by Next Up, with lyrics like, “Back out my shank (knife) and dip it, ballistic; Push in my shank and twist it.”
In February this year, Molnar shot another video where he appeared to make slashing movements across the throat of someone in the distance, with a machete, before poking the blade into a mattress.
Then, on March 2, he stabbed somebody for real; his friend Yousef Makki, through the heart, on Gorse Bank Road in leafy Hale Barns, an act the jury accepted, by their verdicts, was self-defence.
Yousef, 17, was a pupil at Manchester Grammar School. Unlike Molnar, his parents would never have been able to afford independent school without financial help.
The knife that killed Yousef was delivered with enough force that the hilt went into his chest, inflicting a 12cm deep wound which went right through his heart.
Earlier that night, Molnar, Yousef and a third boy had been socialising.
They had smoked some cannabis, and there were knives – the third boy had bought them online.
The third boy had also arranged to buy some more cannabis – £45 worth, from an alleged dealer with a teenage, Cheshire clientele.
Instead, Molnar ended up getting beaten up by the alleged dealer’s friends, and his custom-built Starling £2,000 carbon fibre racer, a gift from his father, was tossed over a hedge.
Neither Yousef, or the third boy, helped him in the fight.
Molnar’s trial heard he blamed the third boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, for arranging the ill-fated drug deal, and he claimed Yousef had taunted him, calling him a ‘pussy’.
“I can’t remember if Yousef laughed a bit or said something but I got more annoyed,” Molnar told jurors.
He admitted he pushed Yousef after the jibe, and said Yousef answered with a punch.
As Molnar put it in his trial: “I was just kind of a bit confused. I wasn’t really expecting it.
“And then I have looked up and Yousef is quite annoyed at me at this point.
“I believe I saw him, he had taken his knife out. And he looked like he was going to hit me again, saying ‘c’mon, c’mon’.
Yousef, he said, would not back down from a confrontation, and he ‘just didn’t want to get beaten up again’.
Feeling ‘quite on edge’, “I have started to take a knife out of my pocket”, he said. “I just wanted to warn him off, trying to get him to leave me alone.”
Asked how the knife ended up ‘inside Yousef’, he said: “Not really. I do not know what I did. I don’t know how it all came together.”
In the aftermath, Molnar described how he made an attempt to help Yousef, taking off his top and using it to try and stem the bleeding.
But he also threw the blade into a bush and lied that the knifeman must have been in a car, a VW Polo, that he claimed had driven away from the scene of the stabbing.
Sentencing him in July, the judge Mr Justice Bryan told Molnar: “The backdrop to your offending is depressingly all too familiar.
“A warped culture whereby the possession of knives is considered to be ‘cool’ and ‘aesthetically pleasing’, and knives are routinely carried on our streets.
“Mix that with youth as well as drugs and drug dealing, as in the present case, and it is a recipe for disaster and the tragic, but all too predictable, events that unfolded on the early evening of 2 March 2019, with the loss of the young life of your friend Yousef Makki who had everything to live for, and the irreparable harm that resulted, which has changed the lives of his family and friends for ever.”
Today Molnar remains locked up, subject to a 16-month detention and training order.
It is expected he will be released in March.
The other boy who was out with him and Yousef on the night is serving a four-month sentence for possessing a knife.
Seven months on from the night that changed his life for ever – and horrifically ended that of his friend, Molnar’s mother Stephanie says this.
“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.
“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.”
The court order preventing the media from identifying Molnar was due to expire on Tuesday, October 8, when he turned 18.
But a Sunday newspaper persuaded the trial judge to end the order two days sooner to coincide with its day of publication. Molnar’s defence did not oppose the application.
Now, against the image of him as a spoilt, disaffected boy, a source close to his family insists Molnar was ‘just a normal, typical teenage lad’ who was ‘very sociable’, a ‘creative chef’, a keen cyclist ‘like his father’, and with ‘a number of different friendship groups’.
The blade Molnar was seen playing with in a video which was shown to the jury and described in court as a machete, was actually ‘an old garden tool’, they said.
And, despite comments in the trial from his own QC, Alistair Webster, that Molnar and his two friends in the tragic case were ‘obsessed with knives’, the source insisted: “That’s just not true.”
They added: “Josh is incredibly remorseful for what happened.
“One of his mates has died and it was an accident that should not have happened.”