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Mother of stabbed British-Lebanese teenager dies ‘with a broken heart’

Flowers and tributes are placed in memory of 17-year-old stabbing victim Yousef Ghaleb Makkion on Gorse Bank Road in the village of Hale Barns, near Altrincham on March 04, 2019 in Manchester, England. [Christopher Furlong/Getty Images]
Flowers and tributes are placed in memory of 17-year-old stabbing victim Yousef Ghaleb Makkion on Gorse Bank Road in the village of Hale Barns, near Altrincham on March 04, 2019 in Manchester, England. [Christopher Furlong/Getty Images]

The mother of a British-Lebanese teenager, who was fatally stabbed in the UK last year, died on Sunday in Greater Manchester.

Debbie Makki, 55, died “with a broken heart” after her mental and physical health “deteriorated dramatically” following the loss of her 17-year-old son, Yousef, her family said.

“The toll of losing Yousef was colossal, but the injustice and the constant uphill battle we had to fight meant she never found peace,” explained her daughter Jade Akoum. “There have been a lot of false promises to our family, beacons of hope from individuals that have amounted to nothing… I want to assure everyone that we will get to the bottom of this.”

The person charged with killing Yousef, Joshua Molnar, was acquitted of manslaughter after pleading self-defence during a four-week-trial in Manchester last year. A third boy involved in the incident, known as Boy B, was found not guilty on charges of perverting the course of justice and conspiracy to rob. At the time, a detective from the Greater Manchester Police said that the force was “disappointed” with the verdict.

In the 15 months since Yousef’s death, his mother campaigned for tougher sentences for knife crimes. Both Molnar and Boy B were detained for eight and four months respectively for possessing illegal knives. Molnar received a longer sentence because he admitted perverting the course of justice.

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According to Makki, though, this wasn’t enough. “I don’t think there’s a deterrent any more,” she told the BBC last December. “It’s just a matter of, you know, if you get four months for carrying a knife, you come out after two.”

Yousef, Molnar and Boy B reportedly all carried knives and were friends. According to a BBC report, the group indulged in “idiotic fantasies” and posed as gangsters, despite coming from relatively privileged backgrounds.

In March 2019, the trio had planned to rob a drug dealer, with whom Boy B had arranged a cannabis deal. Yousef and Boy B fled the scene after the robbery went awry while Molnar was beaten up, The New Arab reported.

A fight later broke out between Molnar and Yousef, resulting in the victim being stabbed after both boys pulled knives on each other. “As Yousef lay dying, the defendants hid the knives in bushes… dialled 999 and tried to staunch Yousef’s chest wound,” said the BBC. Molnar and Boy B later lied to police, telling them that they had found Yousef stabbed.

Tributes for Debbie Makki flooded in after her family announced her death on Sunday. Manchester Grammar School, where Yousef studied from 2013-19, said, “Our thoughts go out to Debbie’s family and friends at this difficult time”. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help pay for Debbie Makki’s funeral.

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