"The ruthlessness of everyone involved is staggering"
Seven men have been found guilty of the murder of Salford student Aya Hachem.
The 19-year-old was walking along King Street, Blackburn, on May 17, 2021, when she was hit by a stray bullet meant for the rival of local businessman Feroz Suleman.
This was the result of an ongoing feud between two rival car wash businesses.
Preston Crown Court heard that Suleman, owner of RI Tyres, and his friend Ayaz Hussain, recruited Zamir Raja to assassinate the owner of rival car wash business Quickshine Tyres.
The feud escalated in December 2019 when RI Tyres was the victim of an arson attack.
Suleman suspected that Quickshine was responsible.
By May 2020, Suleman began coming up with a plan to murder the owner of Quickshine as a way to resolve the dispute.
He and Hussain enlisted Zamir Raja to carry out the shooting while Antony Ennis was recruited as the driver.
On May 16, 2020, they practised the route for the planned drive-by shooting.
The following day, shots fired from a Toyota Avensis were aimed at Quickshine.
However, the second bullet struck Aya Hachem who had been on her way to the supermarket.
After she fell to the ground, members of the public tried to help, but her injuries were already fatal.
CCTV showed Suleman and Kashif Manzoor watching the shooting from the adjacent car wash.
Senior Crown Prosecutor Alan Richardson said:
“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.”
Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Zoe Russo from Lancashire’s Force Major Investigation Team (FMIT), said:
“I am pleased with today’s result which is the conclusion of months of meticulous and challenging police work.”
“Throughout this incredibly long and complex investigation, our focus was always clear; to find the people involved so we could get justice for Aya.
“With that, my thanks goes to each and every police officer and member of police staff who dedicated many hours, skill and expertise to track the people involved down and build a case so strong that, along with the excellent work by CPS and Counsel, helped the jury reach their guilty verdicts.”
Seven men and one woman were convicted:
- Feroz Suleman, aged 40, of Blackburn, was found guilty of murder and attempted murder.
- Ayaz Hussain, aged 35, of Blackburn, was found guilty of murder and attempted murder.
- Zamir Raja, aged 33, of Stretford, was found guilty of murder and attempted murder.
- Antony Ennis, aged 31, of Partington, was found guilty of murder and attempted murder.
- Abubakhar Satia, aged 32, of Blackburn, was found guilty of murder and attempted murder.
- Kashif Manzoor, aged 26, of Blackburn, was found guilty of murder and attempted murder.
- Uthman Satia, aged 29, of Great Harwood, was found guilty of murder and attempted murder.
- Judy Chapman, aged 26, of Great Harwood, was found guilty of manslaughter.
All the defendants except Chapman will be sentenced on August 5, 2021.
Chapman’s hearing will take place on October 1, 2021.