The mother of a teenage schoolboy who was stabbed to death has died “with a broken heart” just over a year after his killing, her devastated daughter has revealed.
Debbie Makki, 55, died in Greater Manchester at 4am on Sunday, two days after she was rushed to hospital while “struggling at home” in isolation from family, including her grandchildren, due to the coronavirus lockdown, a statement said.
She “hadn’t been the same” since her son Yousef, 17, was fatally stabbed in affluent Hale Barns, Cheshire, on March 2, 2019, and she “never found peace” after the boy who knifed him in the heart was cleared of murder and manslaughter.
The Makkis, from Burnage, Manchester, recently suffered another tragedy when family friend Aya Hachem, 19, was killed in a drive-by shooting while out buying groceries for her family in Blackburn, Lancashire, on May 17.
A Makki family statement said “at least you are with Yousef now”, adding: “Mum died with a broken heart & we knew she wanted justice for Yousef & I promise you mum we won’t give up until we get it for you.”
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In a statement, Mrs Makki’s daughter, Jade Akoum, said the grief of losing a son and the family’s “uphill battle” for justice had taken a considerable toll on her mother, and family members could not be with her in her final moments.
The family has been calling for a full inquest into Yousef’s death.
In October, Ms Makki spoke at an anti-knife crime summit in Manchester, where she read the victim impact statement she was unable to deliver in court due to her shock over the outcome of the case.
Ms Akoum said: “My mum’s mental and physically health had deteriorated dramatically over the past year and she hadn’t been the same since Yousef was murdered.
“Her heart was broken and the spark in her eyes had gone.
“The toll of losing Yousef was colossal, but the injustice and the constant uphill battle we had to fight meant she never found peace.
“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.
“Not only have these awful people taken Yousef, they have worn my mum down and taken her too.
“My mum was the strongest, bravest lady I have ever met and we will miss her dearly.
“We want to thank everyone who has supported us throughout and will continue to do so.”
Another statement, on behalf of the Makki and Akoum families, said: “It is with a broken heart that we have to share this devastating news: our beloved Mum and Nana, so loved by everyone who knew her, died in the early hours of this morning.
“She was rushed to hospital via ambulance two days ago after struggling at home.
“The doctors told us she was critical. She was not strong enough to fight.
“Lockdown isolated my mum from her Grandchildren who kept her going and she had too much time to think about the loss of Yousef – and the stark injustice and inhumane treatment of our family that followed.
“She wondered why the the families of the boys involved in Yousef’s death have never contacted her and how they could be so cruel.
“It kept her awake most nights – she literally never slept.
“We were unable to be with her in her last moments, just as we were unable to be with Yousef – but they are together now which brings us some comfort.
“Our world has fallen apart all over again and we are all in complete shock.”
Ms Akoum also tweeted: “24th Of May at 4am my beautiful strong mum Debbie Makki peacefully passed away.
“God rest your soul, at least you are with Yousef now, we told him we needed you here a bit longer but you had to be together!
“We love you so so much, i promise we will keep fighting for justice.”
A further statement on Facebook said: “We love you so so much, I didn’t think my heart could take any more pain and loss and grief.
“Please say a prayer for her soul today & pray for my little brother who has lost 2 of the closest people to him in the space of a year & all of us that have been left behind.
“Mum died with a broken heart & we knew she wanted justice for Yousef & I promise you mum we won’t give up until we get it for you.”
On March 2 last year, Manchester Grammar School pupil Yousef was stabbed in the heart by former public schoolboy Joshua Molnar, then 17, who was wielding a flick knife, in Hale Barns, a village which is home to celebrities and footballers.
Molnar, from a wealthy Cheshire family, claimed he acted in self-defence and was cleared of murder and manslaughter in July last year.
He admitted possession of a knife and perverting the course of justice and was given 16 months in custody.
When the jury reached its decision after a four-week trial at Manchester Crown Court, Yousef’s father, Ghaleb, banged on a Perspex divider and began to shout and swear at the judge and jurors, witnesses said at the time.
Before collapsing to the floor in tears, he screamed: “Where’s the justice for my son? Where’s the justice?”
October 2019 video:
A second defendant, Adam Chowdhary, who was 17 at the time of Yousef’s death, was convicted of possession of a knife and sentenced to a four-month detention order.
He was cleared of perverting the course of justice and along with Molnar was found not guilty of a single charge of conspiracy to robbery.
Mrs Makki and the family have been calling for a full inquest into Yousef’s death, and at a pre-inquest hearing in February their legal representative Matthew Stanbury said matters surrounding the teenager’s death “have not been sufficiently aired”.
In October last year, Mrs Makki spoke at an anti-knife crime summit at Manchester Cathedral, telling the audience of seeing her son as he lay dead in hospital just hours after wishing her daughter a happy 32nd birthday.
She told the crowd: “As I reached the hospital the surgeon stood in front of me and shook his head.
“I knew then it was too late and my boy had gone.
“He’d been found dying in the road, alone. No one to help him, or cuddle or speak to him, in his final moments.
“The reality of knife crime is, unless you have lost a loved one, especially a child, knowing you can’t touch your child because he is now a piece of forensic evidence.
“My boy, who I have protected for 17 years and watched him grow into a loving, beautiful and intelligent young man was never going to walk into my room again.
“He had his infectious smile, which he was famous for, always bubbly, always full of life.
“His precious life was cruelly taken from us just because his killer had an obsession with knives.”
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham was among those to pay tribute to her following her death.
He wrote on Twitter: “So so sorry to hear this news. And after everything the family has been through.
“Debbie was such a lovely person and deserved so much more. My love to them all.”
A spokesperson for Manchester Grammar School tweeted: “It is with great sadness that we have heard the tragic news that Debbie Makki, Yousef’s Makki’s mother, has sadly passed away in the early hours of this morning.
“Our thoughts go out to Debbie’s family and friends at this difficult time.”
Yousef had won a scholarship to the prestigious £12,000-a-year school.