On 6th October, a number of newspapers identified Josh Molnar as the acquitted defendant in the murder trial relating to Yousef Makki.
The tone and nature of the reports varied according to the type of newspaper in which it was reported.
Josh was named because he was about to become 18 years of age.
Alistair Webster Q.C. said:
“There was a lot of misinformed comment upon the case following Josh’s acquittal. Having defended him, together with Alex Leach, I had a good view of the evidence and the issues involved. I fully understand the anguish felt by the Makki family, but the fact is that the verdict was fully in accordance with the evidence.
Selective quotation of the evidence in some reports has not assisted the public in understanding the evidence. What the case raised, acutely, were the roles of social media, drill rap music which exalts misanthropic attitudes and violence, and the use of cannabis by all the boys involved. It is very clear that the effect of strong cannabis is damaging many teenagers and leading to wasted lives. All of them had references to knives on their phones and communicated in gangsta rap.
Parents and schools need to be very alert and it is clear to me that much more needs to be done to embed an attitude in these children which makes them less prone to see drugs, and drug culture, as attractive.
Finally, comments suggesting that the verdicts were race or class based, including that from a local MP, are crass. One of the defendants was from an ethnic minority background, and the jury clearly varied significantly in its ethnic and social make up. The job of a jury is hard enough without being subjected to ill-informed, and baseless, criticism”.