A teenager who fatally stabbed a grammar schoolboy has admitted handling an iPhone stolen in a violent robbery weeks before the tragedy.
Former public schoolboy Joshua Molnar, 19, knifed Yousef Makki, 17, in the heart during a fight in upmarket Hale Barns, Cheshire, in March 2019.
Molnar, from a wealthy family, told a jury he acted in self-defence as he said Mr Makki, a scholarship pupil at Manchester Grammar School, pulled a knife on him.
He was subsequently cleared of murder and manslaughter.
On Thursday, Molnar appeared at Chester Crown Court where he pleaded guilty to an offence of handling stolen goods and was sentenced to a 12-month conditional discharge.
He had been due to face trial on the allegation next week after previously denying the offence.
Former public schoolboy Joshua Molnar, 19, (left) knifed Yousef Makki, 17, (right) in the heart during a fight in upmarket Hale Barns, Cheshire, in March 2019
Outlining the facts of the case, which was unconnected to the fatal stabbing, Simon Mills, prosecuting, said: ‘A youth was subjected to a violent mugging-type robbery by a large group of male youths at about 7pm on February 17, 2019.
‘That offence took place on the streets adjacent to the Wilmslow Leisure Centre. The youth was surrounded, threatened and punched repeatedly. One male took £30 cash from him and another took his white gold-coloured Apple iPhone.
‘I should make it clear there is no evidence, no suggestion, that this defendant was involved in that offence.’
The prosecutor said police investigating the death of Mr Makki searched the defendant’s then family address in Hale and among items recovered was the Apple phone in the dressing table drawer of his bedroom.
Mr Mills said: ‘The police at that stage did not know anything about that phone, they had no idea about its origin. It was locked by pin code which obviously the defendant can’t have known.’
Molnar later went on trial in July 2019 at Manchester Crown Court over the death of Mr Makki, where he was also acquitted of conspiracy to commit robbery in the lead-up to Yousef’s death. He admitted possession of a knife and perverting the course of justice by initially lying to police about what had happened.
On Thursday, Molnar appeared at Chester Crown Court (pictured) where he pleaded guilty to an offence of handling stolen goods and was sentenced to a 12-month conditional discharge
The phone stolen in the Wilmslow robbery was formally identified by the victim in January 2020 after police successfully downloaded its memory, said Mr Mills.
The prosecutor went on: ‘There has never been any explanation for the defendant being in possession of that phone until his defence statement on April 16 this year.
‘The prosecution says it’s perfectly simple – he can’t have come into possession of the phone in legitimate circumstances, although the precise details of that are within his own knowledge.’
Molnar had also pleaded not guilty to possessing a sheath and a knife in South Drive, Wilmslow, on February 17 2019 but he was formally cleared of the allegation earlier this year after the Crown Prosecution Service decided there was insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction.
In July 2019, Molnar was sentenced to a 16-month detention and training order and was released from custody in February 2020 on ‘fairly stringent licence conditions’, the court heard.
Alexander Leach QC, defending, said in the run-up to that sentence he was also on what was ‘effectively an intensive supervision and surveillance programme’.
He said: ‘So he has spent a very substantial period of time under either custodial or extremely close monitoring conditions since the commission of this offence.’
The court heard that Molnar, of The Shambles, Knutsford, had ‘reacted incredibly well’ following his spell in custody and the Youth Justice Service had noted how he had changed his approach to life.
Sentencing, Judge Steven Everett, the Honorary Recorder of Chester, told him: ‘The phone came into your possession, it’s not clear how. You have not actually said.
‘In reality it doesn’t matter because you received the phone and that is what you have now admitted, handling that stolen iPhone.
‘I have had the opportunity of reading an excellent report that deals with your approach to life following your 16-month sentence and how you have behaved since your release.
‘The Youth Justice Service are very impressed with your approach and they believe that you have made real strides in changing your life from whatever it was before your 16-month sentence.’
He said the maximum sentence he could impose was a low-level community order, but it was ‘clear’ the youth justice does not feel that would assist him any further and a fine would not be appropriate.
He told Molnar: ‘I am going to pass a conditional discharge and that conditional discharge will be for 12 months. What that means is you must stay out of trouble for 12 months, so continue the good progress that you have made in the last couple of years.
‘If you don’t you will be in breach of the conditional discharge and you can be resentenced for this matter, in addition to any sentence for any fresh offence.
‘Just because a community order would have been the maximum sentence that could be imposed on you today that doesn’t mean to say custody wouldn’t be appropriate in any breach.
‘So, in a sense, your future is in your own hands.’