Channel 4 has commissioned a documentary from Blakeway North about the death of 17 year old Yousef Makki.
On 2nd March 2019, Yousef was stabbed in the heart by one of his friends on a quiet, leafy street in the wealthy Manchester suburb of Hale Barns. The two boys who were with him as he lay dying from a 12cm deep knife wound were brought up in the affluent surrounding areas and like Yousef had attended expensive public schools. But unlike them, Yousef was not from a wealthy family. He grew up 7 miles and a world away on a council estate in Burnage and won a life changing bursary to top school Manchester Grammar School.
The only people who know for certain what happened that night are three boys; one is dead, the second was accused of his murder and the third declined to give evidence in court. Just 4 months after Yousef was killed, a jury found his friend not guilty of murder or manslaughter. The outcome has been widely questioned, raising issues of class, wealth, and privilege in the justice system. Yousef’s family are hoping that an inquest and re-examination of the case will reveal what happened the night he died.
For this deeply personal film, Director Tom Reeves has followed members of Yousef’s family for months as they try to come to terms with Yousef’s death, and campaign for further legal proceedings in order to find out how he died.
Alongside this intimate present tense narrative, the documentary will also feature powerful testimony from those closest to Yousef, as well as key people involved in the criminal trial, piecing together the evidence presented by those who sought justice for this promising young man.
Will Rowson, Commissioning Editor factual said, “The news of Yousef’s death sent shock waves around Manchester and this story raises important questions nationally, not only about the way justice is administered but also around the perception of knife crime as an exclusively inner-city problem.”
Director Tom Reeves added: “Yousef’s tragic death has resonated with me ever since I first heard about it. Having grown up and spent my life not far from where his family live, I couldn’t help but feel connected to this tragic story. Yousef’s case raises uncomfortable questions about society and the justice system and his family have been left deeply affected by their experiences of this. Whilst filming with them, I have been struck by their determination in refusing to accept that justice was served in this case and their courage in campaigning to keep Yousef’s name alive.”
Yousef’s sister, Jade Akoum said "We have given Channel 4 exclusive access to our family over the past year to follow events since the loss of Yousef at a time of immense heart ache for us all. We look forward to the public seeing how hard we have fought to find out what happened to Yousef the night he died and to show what he was really like. Viewers will see the unbearable impact knife crime has on the families of victims, we are totally broken without Yousef, and hope this will make just one person think twice before carrying a knife."
Fran Baker, Executive Producer at Blakeway North continued: “As a local Manchester indie with a strong track record of enabling people at the heart of terrible events to tell their stories, we felt compelled to unpick Yousef’s death and the events that followed. Few people, including Yousef’s family, have a true understanding of how the justice system works; we hope that through this powerful documentary the outcome of the trial can be better understood and some of the questions around this promising young man’s tragic death can be answered.”
Production company: Blakeway North
Executive Producer: Fran Baker
Director: Tom Reeves
Commissioning Editor Factual: Will Rowson