Student ‘in wrong place at wrong time’ when killed in Blackburn drive-by shooting

Business rivalry led to teen’s ‘simply unlucky’ death, court heard

Liam James
Friday 21 May 2021 01:43
Student Aya Hachem was killed in a drive-by shooting last May
Student Aya Hachem was killed in a drive-by shooting last May

Law student Aya Hachem was "in the wrong place at the wrong time" when she was killed amid a feud between two neighbouring tyre firm owners, a court heard.

Ms Hachem, 19, was gunned down in a drive-by shooting while walking to a supermarket in Blackburn, Lancashire, on 17 May last year.

The shooting was the culmination of a long-running dispute between Feroz Suleman, the owner of RI Tyres, and Pachah Khan, the proprietor of Quickshine Tyres, a jury at Preston Crown Court was told.

Eight people are on trial over Ms Hachem's death, which the prosecution said resulted from a plot to kill the Quickshine owner.

Opening the case on Thursday, prosecutor Nicholas Johnson QC said: "The bad blood between the men had been building over a period of time and it got to the extent that a plan was hatched to kill Mr Khan and/or someone else at Quickshine Tyres."

Mr Johnson said the feud started in early 2019 when Quickshine began selling tyres next door to RI after previously restricting itself to washing cars.

It began with "relatively petty" incidents, such as arguments between staff and attempts to tout customers, sometimes by offering cheaper prices "literally over the wall", Mr Johnson said.

Matters deteriorated on 3 December 2019 when someone set fire to RI Tyres in the early hours of the morning, said the prosecutor, adding that Suleman “was adamant with the police” that Mr Khan started the fire.

Then, on 1 May last year, said the prosecutor, Suleman called the police and reported Mr Khan had prevented workmen from entering Quickshine's yard to finish putting up a new sign for RI Tyres.

It was reported that Mr Khan had threatened to fetch a machete from his car if the workmen came on to his premises, the court heard.

Mr Johnson said: "On the other hand, Mr Khan told the police that Feroz Suleman had told him they would finish his business off, burn his premises down, assault him and kill him.

"By early May 2020, a serious plan had been hatched by these defendants to shoot someone at Quickshine Tyres. It was a plan that involved many people - each playing an important and significant part.

“It involved sourcing an expendable car and an assassin from out of the area who, they thought, would never be traced back to RI Tyres."

Zamir Raja, from Manchester, was hired as assassin and attempted to shoot Mr Khan from the back of a Toyota Avensis being driven by Anthony Ennis, Mr Johnson said.

Raja took two shots, with the first hitting a window at Quickshine and the second killing Ms Achem, the prosecutor said.

Mr Johnson said: "Aya had no connection to either Mr Khan, his business, Zamir Raja, or anyone else in this case.

"She was simply unlucky.

"She was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Eight people, all from Lancashire and Greater Manchester, are in the dock over Ms Hachem's killing: Suleman, 40, Raja, 33, Ennis, 31, Kashif Manzoor, 26, Ayaz Hussain, 35, Abubakr Satia, 32, his brother Uthman Satia, 29, and Judy Chapman, 26.

All deny murder and have pleaded not guilty to the attempted murder of Mr Khan. The trial is expected to last up to 10 weeks.

Additional reporting by agencies

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