Aya Hachem: Seven men jailed for more than 200 years for murder of Blackburn law student

Video report by Tim Scott

A group of men found guilty of murdering a law student who was mistakenly gunned down in a botched drive-by shooting have been jailed for a minimum of 216 years.

It happened after the boss of a local tyre firm, Feroz Suleman, hired a hitman to kill a rival businessman in May 2020. Instead, 19-year-old Aya Hachem was shot dead.

Aya was said to be "in the wrong place at the wrong time" as the long-running feud between the neighbouring tyre companies culminated in Blackburn on the afternoon of May 17th 2020.

Today, a total of seven men were handed life sentences for the murder of Aya Hachem.

Top row: Feroz Suleman, Zamir Raja, Uthman Satia, Abubakr Satia. Bottom row: Anthony Ennis, Kashif Mansoor, Ayaz Hussain, Judy Chapman Credit: Lancashire Police

The Judge, The Honourable Mr Justice Turner, delivered the sentences:

  • Feroz Suleman, 40, of Shear Brow, Blackburn was sentenced to 34 years. He instigated and organised the hit.

  • Zamir Raj, 33, of Davyhulme Road, Stretford, Manchester was given 34 years. He was responsible for sourcing and transporting the firearm used in the shooting, as well as firing the shots.

  • Anthony Ennis, 31, of Grasmere Court, Partington was sentenced to 33 years. He drove the Avensis carrying the gunman during the shooting.

  • Ayaz Hussain, 35, of Calgary Avenue, Blackburn was given 32 years. He was the link between the Lancashire offenders and Zamir Raja and Anthony Ennis, based in Manchester. He played a key role in organising and orchestrating the shooting and was in company of Abubakr Satia when petrol was bought to burn out the Avensis, however, this did not go ahead.

  • Abubakr Satia, 32, of Oxford Close, Blackburn, was sentenced to 28 years. He sourced the Avensis used in the shooting and was also was involved in buying petrol afterwards to burn out the car.

  • Kashif Manzoor, 26, of Shakeshaft Street, Blackburn was given 27 years. He ensured the Avensis used to transport the shooter was running on the day of the incident.

  • Uthman Satia, 29, of St Hubert’s Road, Great Harwood was sentenced to 28 years. He helped to transport the gunman and driver to and from the Avensis on Wellington Road as the front seat passenger of the car being driven by his girlfriend, Judy Chapman.

Judy Chapman, 26, of St Hubert’s Road, Great Harwood was found not guilty of Aya’s murder but was convicted of her manslaughter.

Speaking after the sentencing, Aya's brother, Ibrahim Hachem, says he's 'glad' other people will be safe now his sister's killers are in jail.

The teenager who dreamed of becoming a solicitor had fled from violence in her native Lebanon as a child to settle with her family in Lancashire.

She was shot while on a trip to a nearby supermarket to buy food ready for when her family would break their Ramadan feast that evening.

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 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 Miss Hachem walked by, hitting her rather than the intended target.

Aya died in hospital after a bullet entered her left shoulder, passed through her body and embedded itself in a telegraph pole.

A gun be seen pointed from the back window of the Avensis moments before the shots were fired. Credit: Lancashire Police

Speaking after the sentencing, Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Zoe Russo from Lancashire’s Force Major Investigation Team (FMIT), said:

“This group tried to cover their tracks in a variety of different ways, for example using burner phones, disposing of electronic data and in the case of Raja and Ennis, fleeing the country to mainland Europe. Thankfully, we were able to get to the truth of what happened and get the people responsible.

“I would like to thank the public, particularly the community of Blackburn, for their support during this investigation, and the many officers and staff who worked incredibly hard to get to the truth to secure the convictions of the eight people who played key roles."

The statement continued: “... my thoughts very much remain with Aya’s family, who I know will never get over their loss. I hope that now this long trial has concluded and the people responsible for her death are in prison where they belong, they can start the long journey to rebuild their lives and find happiness again.”

More to follow.