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Seven jailed for life over murder of law student in bungled drive-by shooting

·5-min read

Seven men have been jailed for life for the murder of a law student who was mistakenly gunned down in a botched drive-by shooting.

Tyre firm boss Feroz Suleman, 40, arranged the execution of a rival businessman in broad daylight but the gunman he hired instead shot dead innocent passer-by Aya Hachem.

The 19-year-old who dreamed of becoming a solicitor had fled from violence in her native Lebanon as a child to settle with her family in Blackburn, Lancashire.

Feroz Suleman
Feroz Suleman has been jailed for at least 34 years (Lancashire Police/PA)

Miss Hachem was shot in King Street on May 17 last year while on a trip to a nearby supermarket to buy food for when her family would break their Ramadan feast that evening.

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

On Thursday, Suleman, of Shear Brow, Blackburn, was ordered to serve a minimum of 34 years before he could be considered for parole.

The gunman, Zamir Raja, 33, of Davyhulme Road, Stretford, was jailed for a minimum of 34 years and his driver, Anthony Ennis, 31, of Grasmere Court, Partington, must serve at least 33 years.

Accomplices Ayaz Hussain, 36, of Calgary Avenue, Blackburn; Abubakr Satia, 32, of Oxford Close, Blackburn; his brother, Uthman Satia, 29, of St Hubert’s Road, Great Harwood; and Kashif Manzoor, 26, of Shakeshaft Street, Blackburn, were handed minimum terms of 32 years, 28 years, 28 years and 27 years, respectively.

Zamir Raja
Zamir Raja was the gunman (Lancashire Police/PA)

The intended target was Pachah Khan, 31, owner of Quickshine Car Wash, who angered Suleman, the boss of neighbouring RI Tyres, when his business began to sell tyres and became a direct competitor.

A bitter feud developed and Suleman ordered the execution of Mr Khan, telling his ally Hussain to recruit an assassin.

Manchester-based hitman Raja and his driver Ennis were assigned the task.

Abubakr Satia sourced a silver Toyota Avensis for just £300, financed by his friend Suleman, which was used by Raja and Ennis on the day of the shooting.

Judy Chapman, 26, who was convicted of manslaughter for her involvement, drove the gunman and driver from Bolton with her boyfriend, Uthman Satia, as front-seat passenger. She then collected the pair after the shooting.

Manzoor ensured the unreliable Avensis was able to be used after he jump-started the vehicle and left the engine running.

Ayaz Hussain
Ayaz Hussain was described as ‘the choreographer’ of the bungled execution plot (Lancashire Police/PA)

Sentencing, Mr Justice Turner told Suleman: “You were the driving force behind the whole deadly enterprise from beginning to end and followed through this plan with obsessive determination.

“When you were in prison you commented to Abubakr Satia you were the captain of the ship and if you were to go down then everyone would down with you. How right you were.”

Giving evidence at the 12-week trial, divorced father-of-two Suleman denied any knowledge of a plot to kill Mr Khan and said Quickshine selling tyres had no impact on his business.

However, Amazon driver Hussain told jurors that Suleman wanted Mr Khan “roughed up” and introduced him to Raja who suggested a drive-by with shots fired in the air to scare him.

Suleman was quoted a price of £1,500 and excitedly agreed straight away, said Hussain, who claimed there was no plan to kill.

Raja initially said he had nothing to do with the shooting and had arrived in Blackburn for a drugs deal, but during the trial he admitted he fired the gun, although he refused to return to the witness box to explain his intent.

Anthony Ennis
Anthony Ennis drove the gunman to the shooting scene (Lancashire Police/PA)

Cannabis dealer Ennis, known as Sarge by his North Manchester customers, said he thought the trip to East Lancashire involved “s—ting some people up and making them leg it”. He said he did not know Raja had a firearm, thought to be a Glock pistol.

Manzoor and the Satia brothers told the jury they were all innocent dupes, with cocaine addict Uthman Satia claiming he thought he was transporting two men for a test drive of the Avensis.

The jury took less than four hours on Tuesday to reject their version of events and convict the seven male defendants of the murder of Miss Hachem and the attempted murder of Mr Khan.

Mr Justice Turner told them: “None of you seven showed any remorse in the aftermath of the shooting. Together you tried to lie, scheme and plot your way out of trouble.

“It was not long before you all started to sacrifice your co-defendants in an attempt to save your own skins.”

Raja, who tried to pursue his payment after the killing, apologised for lying when giving evidence.

In a letter to the judge, he said he was “in denial” and said he would forever live with “shame and regret”.

He said: “The grief I have caused is unimaginable and I take full responsibility for my actions. I am truly sorry from the bottom of my heart.”

In 2001, Suleman was jailed for three-and-half years for causing the death of a 67-year-old man by dangerous driving.

Chapman, also of St Hubert’s Road, Great Harwood, will be sentenced on October 1 after she was found guilty of the manslaughter of Miss Hachem. She was cleared of murder and attempted murder.

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