Seven men found guilty of murdering Blackburn student Aya Hachem in botched drive-by shooting
Seven men have been found guilty of murdering Aya Hachem who was shot dead in a feud between two tyre firm owners.
Aya Hachem, 19, was mistakenly killed in the botched drive-by shooting in Blackburn on May 17, 2020.
Tyre firm boss Feroz Suleman, 40, had arranged the execution of a rival businessman but the gunman he hired shot dead Ms Hachem instead.
Seven of the eight people who were on trial at Preston Crown Court were convicted of Ms Hachem's murder.
Suleman along with accomplices Kashif Manzoor, 26, Ayaz Hussain, 35, Abubakr Satia, 32, all of Blackburn; Zamir Raja, 33, of Stretford; Anthony Ennis, 31, of Partington, and Uthman Satia, 29, of Great Harwood, will be sentenced on Thursday, August 5.
The eighth defendant, Judy Chapman, 26, of Great Harwood, was cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter and will be sentenced October 1.
Senior Investigating Officer, Det Chief Insp Zoe Russo, from Lancashire's Force Major Investigation Team (FMIT), said: "I am delighted with the outcome of the trial which is the result of months of challenging and meticulous police work.
"Throughout this long and incredibly complex investigation, our focus has been clear: to find the people involved in this most serious course of offending; bring them before the court; and to ensure that Aya’s family receive justice.
"We must, however, not forget that these convictions will not bring Aya back. Her family continues to mourn her loss. Aya was a remarkable and much loved 19-year-old woman."
Law student Ms Hachem was said to be "in the wrong place at the wrong time" as the long-running feud between the neighbouring tyre companies culminated in the shooting.
A Toyota Avensis driven by Ennis with hitman Raja on board drove past Quickshine Tyres on three occasions shortly before the fatal fourth journey.
Footage from CCTV cameras captured Suleman stood outside his premises next door at RI Tyres with a "ringside seat" to the shooting he had arranged of rival Pachah Khan, the proprietor of Quickshine Tyres.
The first shot hit the front window of Quickshine and the second was let off as Lebanese-born Ms Hachem walked by, hitting her rather than the intended target.
A jury at Preston Crown Court took less than four hours to find the seven men guilty of murder and the attempted murder of Mr Khan.
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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