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Public schoolboy might have been convicted of murdering friend if he had been black, MP suggests

Colin Drury

A public schoolboy cleared of murdering a friend might well have been convicted had he been a black state school pupil, an MP has suggested.

Lucy Powell, Labour member for Manchester Central, made the comments after the teenager, who cannot be named, was acquitted of stabbing 17-year-old Yousef Makki to death in the upmarket village of Hale Barns, Cheshire.

The youngster, known only as Boy A, had admitted knifing his friend but said he did so only in self-defence after Makki himself had drawn a blade during an argument.

A second defendant, Boy B – also a public school pupil – was cleared of perverting the court of justice by lying to police about what he had seen.

Writing on Twitter, Ms Powell said: “You do have to ask if these defendants were black, at state school and from, say, Moss Side whether they would have been acquitted…”

When some questioned if the post could be seen as assuming guilt on two boys who had been found not guilty, the MP refused to row back.

“I stand by my comments on this,” she said. “My point is wider (not as judge & jury in this one): black, poor, young men – as is well-evidenced – are much more likely to get life-sentences for a peripheral, if any, role in a killing. These were acquitted.”

The two defendants were cleared on Friday following a trial at Manchester Crown Court.

Jurors there had heard how hours before the fatal stabbing on 2 March, Boy B had arranged to purchase cannabis worth £45 – but that he, Boy A and Makki had actually planned to rob the dealer.

When that went wrong, the three got into an argument with Boy A and Makki drawing knives. Boy A said Makki was accidentally stabbed in the subsequent melee.

As the victim lay dying, the defendants hid the knives in bushes and down a drain, and dialled 999, the court was told.

A heart surgeon who happened to be passing by performed emergency surgery in the back of an ambulance but the teenager, a pupil at the prestigious Manchester Grammar School, had suffered catastrophic blood loss.

His friends both initially told police they had found him stabbed and suggested others were responsible.

Because of that lie, Boy A did admit perverting the course of justice and possession of a flick knife, while Boy B admitted possession of a flick knife. Both defendants still face sentencing for those crimes.