Lebanon-born teenager shot dead in crossfire of business dispute

19th Jun 2020
Lebanon-born teenager shot dead in crossfire of business dispute

(Photo: Aya Hachem/CC)

Elham Asaad Buaras

A “remarkable and inspirational” 19-year-old law student was shot dead in the street of Blackburn after being caught in a drive-by shooting, Preston Crown Court heard on May 27. Aya Hachem was hit by one of two bullets fired from a passing car as she shopped near her home on May 17.

Six people charged with her murder appeared at Preston crown court via a video link. Alexander Langhorn, prosecuting, said police had been called to the shooting, arising out of what appeared to be a dispute between RI Tyres and Quick Shine.

Langhorn argued the defendants arranged the attempt to shoot and kill Pachah Khan, the owner and manager of Quick Shine.
Feroz Suleman, 39, appeared alongside fellow defendants 24-year-old Kashif Manzoor; Ayaz Hussain, 34; Uthman Satia, 28; and Abubakir Satia, 31, as well as Judy Chapman, 26. They were all further remanded in custody and no applications for bail were made.

The six are also charged with the attempted murder of Khan.
Separately on May 17, a 33-year-old woman from Bolton became the 15th person arrested in connection with Hachem’s murder. Further to the six people charged, two men have been bailed, five people released under investigation and one man released without charge.

Hachem died in hospital from the single gunshot wound, a short time after emergency services were called to the scene in King Street at about 3 pm.
Her family arrived in the UK 10 years ago after fleeing violence in their native Lebanon. Her father, Ismael, finally secured his British citizenship last year, family friends have said.

Her distraught parents described the teen who was a young trustee at the Children’s Society, as the “most loyal devoted daughter” who enjoyed spending time with her family and dreamed of becoming a solicitor.

Hachem’s colleagues and former teachers have described her as “a beacon of hope”, who was determined to use her experience to improve lives in Britain. The Lebanon-born teenager, who was a second-year student at the University of Salford, was buried in the town of Koleileh, Lebanon on May 24.

Her mother Samar Hachem, who had travelled to Lebanon for the funeral, recalled the moment she was informed of her daughter’s death.
“I started to shout, maybe to scream, I thought maybe an accident, maybe a car or something like that,” she said.

“I asked, what’s happened to her? Is she still in the hospital? And he told me, she’s dead.” Describing the moment he found out about her death, her father Ismail Hachem said, “We had heard helicopters and police cars nearby. Her mother sent me to check up on what was happening. I gave the police a description of my daughter, and they came to my house later and pronounced her dead.

“It was gut-wrenching. Her mother fell to the ground begging the officer to tell her that it wasn’t her daughter that this had happened to. Her two younger siblings were in hysterics. All that comes out of their mouth now is ‘Where’s Aya? Is she never coming home?’ What am I supposed to tell them?”

Judge Mark Brown described the murder as “a worst-case scenario” amid the coronavirus pandemic. He said he hoped it may be brought forward but jury trials across the region were not expected to begin “in the next few weeks.”

Police have now arrested 19 people as part of their investigation.

 

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