An MP has questioned whether two teenagers found not guilty of the murder of a private schoolboy would be free if they were black and went to state school. Lucy Powell, Labour MP for Manchester Central, made the remarks shortly after the end of the trial surrounding the death of Yousef Makki, 17. Two teenagers, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were cleared of the murder of Yousef, who was stabbed in the heart in the picturesque village of Hale Barns, Cheshire. After the four week trial at Manchester Crown Court, Ms Powell wrote on Twitter: ‘You do have to ask if these defendants were black, at state school and from, say, moss side whether they would have been acquitted’.
Her remarks got a mixed reception, with some saying she ‘didn’t actually hear any of the evidence at all’, accusing her of undermining the legal system. She was challenged with claims the jury would have listened to the evidence rather than newspaper headlines. But plenty took her side and said there would be public outrage if the defendants were black and were acquitted. Ms Powell also tweeted: ‘I know of other similar cases where the young black people involved were treated much much more harshly and I know of the overall evidence which shows your background and race plays a massive factor in the severity of your conviction.’ Yousef, who was from an Anglo-Lebanese family from Burnage, south Manchester, was studying at a £12,000-a-year grammar School in the city.
The defendants, known only as Boy A and Boy B, were both from well off families in Cheshire.
The court heard how the boys and Yousef were caught up in ‘idiotic fantasies’ in which they pretended to be ‘middle class gangsters’, despite their privileged backgrounds. Calling each other ‘bro’ and ‘fam’ and the police ‘feds’, the defendants and Yousef smoked cannabis, rode around on bikes and listened to rap or drill music.
They would post videos on social media, making threats and posing with ‘shanks’ or knives. Ms Powell has stood by her remarks (Picture: UK Parliament) Hours before the fatal stabbing, the court heard how Boy B arranged a cannabis deal worth £45 so the defendants could rob a ‘soft target’ drug dealer, the court was told. It all went wrong, and Boy A was beaten up as Boy B and Yousef fled.
This led to Boy A pushing Yousef, calling him a p**** and punching him in the face, the jury heard. He told the court he only took out a knife in response to Yousef doing the same and says the boy ended up being stabbed by accident.
The defendants concealed the knives in bushes and down a drain as they called 999.
A passing heart surgeon performed emergency surgery on Yousef in the back of an ambulance but he had already lost too much blood to survive.
Boy A pleaded not guilty to murder on March 2, claiming he was defending himself. But he did admit to possession of a flick knife and perverting the course of justice by lying to police. Boy B was cleared of perverting the course of justice by lying to officers but admitted to owning a flick knife. The pair are still due to be sentenced for the offences to which they admitted.
Main image copyright:PA/UK Parliament)
Written by: James Hockaday
First published 15.07.19: https://metro.co.uk/2019/07/15/mp-asks-teens-cleared-boys-murder-black-state-school-pupils-10326499/