Aya Hachem: Seven men found guilty of murdering law student during botched drive-by shooting in Blackburn

·3-min read

Seven men have been found guilty of the murder of a law student, mistakenly shot during a botched drive-by assassination attempt.

Aya Hachem was said to be in the "wrong place at the wrong time" when she was killed in Blackburn, Lancashire, on the afternoon of 17 May, last year.

Tyre firm boss Feroz Suleman, 40, had arranged the execution of a rival businessman, but the gunman he hired shot dead Ms Hachem, an innocent passer-by.

The 19-year-old was on a shopping trip, heading to a local supermarket to buy food for her family to break their Ramadan fast, when she was hit by a bullet shot from a passing Toyota Avensis.

The car, driven by Anthony Ennis, 31, with hitman Zamir Raja, 33, on board drove past Quick Shine Tyres on three occasions shortly before the fatal fourth journey.

CCTV footage captured Suleman stood outside his premises next door at RI Tyres with a "ringside seat" to the shooting he had arranged of Pachah Khan, who ran Quick Shine Tyres.

The incident was a culmination of an ongoing rivalry between Suleman and Mr Khan, which started when Quick Shine began to sell tyres, putting the two in direct competition.

Ms Hachem's family, who moved to the UK from Lebanon, said they "thanked God for the justice that has been served".

Paying tribute to the student, they said: "We are so proud of you and we miss you so much - our lives are difficult without you.

"You loved life and despite all the struggles and barriers that we faced in this country, it did not stop you contributing to your community and charities including the Children's Society and fundraising at Salford University where you were studying to become a barrister.

"We love you."

On Tuesday, a jury at Preston Crown Court took less than four hours to find Suleman, from Blackburn, guilty of murder and the attempted murder of Mr Khan.

Raja, of Stretford, Greater Manchester, and Ennis, of Partington, Greater Manchester, were also convicted of murder and attempted murder, as were other accomplices Kashif Manzoor, 26, of Blackburn, Ayaz Hussain, 35, of Blackburn, Abubakr Satia, 32, of Blackburn, and his brother Uthman Satia, 29, of Blackburn.

Uthman Satia's girlfriend, Judy Chapman, 26, of Great Harwood, was found guilty of Ms Hachem's manslaughter but not guilty of the attempted murder of Mr Khan.

Each of the defendants were convicted for their distinct roles in the shooting. Suleman instigated and organised the hit, while Abubakr Satia sourced the car used in the shooting and the petrol intended to burn the car afterwards.

Manzoor was found to be responsible for ensuring the car was running on the day of the incident. Chapman and partner Uthman Satia transported the gunman while Hussain played a key role in orchestrating the shooting.

Raja sourced the firearm used in the shooting, as well as firing the bullets, and Ennis drove the car during the fatal journey.

The group tried to avoid detection by using burner phones and disposing of electronic data, while two of them fled to mainland Europe before being arrested.

Alan Richardson, senior crown prosecutor, added: ''Each of these callous conspirators is in their way responsible for the senseless killing of Aya Hachem - an innocent young woman full of promise who lost her life as a result of a petty business rivalry.

"The ruthlessness of everyone involved is staggering, with the group going to extreme lengths to plan an assassination in broad daylight - risking the lives of members of the public going about their daily business.

"Even when the wrong target was hit, they refused to display any guilt or remorse and denied involvement in this devastating murder."

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