Channel 4’s Killed By A Rich Kid is a sobering watch centred around a stabbing case with privilege at its heart. Here’s why you need to add it to your watchlist now.
Killed By A Rich Kid, which aired this week on Channel 4 (21 March) and is now available to stream on All 4, explores a truly saddening case, but also brings the theme of miscarriage of justice to the forefront.
Like the title suggests, the documentary centres around the case of Yousef Makki, a 17-year-old boy who was stabbed and killed in an affluent suburb of south Manchester in 2019.
The film opens up with body cam footage that will later start to make sense to viewers – it’s a chaotic watch as we see Joshua Molnar lying to the police and crying. He tells officers that the culprits had sped off in a silver hatchback and adds: “We’ve come sprinting over and the guy was just coughing up blood.”
Later, Joshua admits to stabbing Yousef, saying it was self-defence. As well as exploring the case itself, this documentary gives crucial context about Yousef, his life and the lives of those around him.
The teenager won a bursary to Manchester Grammar School – something that people from his area of Burnage only dreamed of, according to Yousef’s sister Jade. Everyone was proud of him, but with this new environment came the realisation that some people are born into entirely different circumstances.
His sister simply states, “Manchester Grammar is a completely different world,” and his mother Debbie said that suddenly, her son was surrounded by “12-year-olds who had everything they wanted”. Going to school proms in helicopters, having the latest mobile phones and living among famous footballers were all things Yousef’s classmates were used to. It was just usual life in Hale Barns, the leafy suburb of Manchester that his new friends lived in.
“Everyone he mixed with just seemed to get richer and richer,” his mother explains. “But it’s not everything in life.” If anything, the context of Yousef’s grammar school shows that knife crime pervades in every community and has no one distinct face – irrespective of how the court tried to portray it.
But examples of this level of privilege were demonstrated throughout the trial, as Joshua walked in to court with private security – something journalists covering the case had never seen before.
The massive challenge to the case was the fact that only three people knew what happened that night – Joshua, co-defendant Adam Chowdhary and Yousef.
According to Joshua, he and Adam tried to steal cannabis from a drug dealer which led to Yousef’s stabbing an hour later. It’s a difficult scenario to try and understand, but the documentary also explores both alleged perpetrators and their backgrounds.
Both public school students from wealthy families, Joshua appeared to be chasing a lifestyle completely opposite to his own. His phone was full of pictures and videos of himself posing with knives and he said in court that he “thought it looked cool”.
In a further cruel twist, Joshua sent a video to Yousef’s younger brother during the trial which shows his feet – with his trousers around his ankles, apparently in the courtroom bathroom – playing rap songs and making stabbing motions. His lawyers said he filmed the video out of “frustration with the way the prosecution were misrepresenting videos that were played at court” and only intended for them to be sent to his girlfriend.
In court, Yousef was portrayed as a boy who had a hot temper, liked to hang around with boys who carried knives and took drugs. The phone evidence provided “looked bad”, according to one of Yousef’s friends, but it’s not the image of Yousef that everyone around him knew. His text messages about fighting friends were sent jokingly and his friends put it down to being a teenage boy.
Yousef’s friend Robin gave evidence about the fact that Joshua had pulled a knife on him just a year before the incident with Yousef. The defence tried to debase his story – citing the fact that he didn’t report the incident to the police, but Robin maintains that it’s all the truth.
Joshua pled guilty to possession of a bladed article and perverting the course of justice but was found not guilty of murder, manslaughter and conspiracy to rob. In total, he served a 16-month detention and training order.
Adam pled guilty to possession of a bladed article and was found not guilty of perverting the course of justice and conspiracy to rob. He was sentenced to four months in a youth detention centre.
Yousef’s sister Jade Akoum continues her fight for justice but in one poignant moment breaks down to her partner: “I’m trying to be strong but he was my brother. All the details that they said and how he died and we weren’t there for him – I’ll never forgive myself that I couldn’t be there.
“He died on his own miles away from where he comes from and we were thinking he was safe.”
The documentary has struck a chord with viewers since it aired on Channel 4, with many outraged at the outcome of the case:
It’s an incredibly emotional watch:
But also shines an important light on the case that is still being contested today:
Images: Channel 4