This is the moment an innocent Salford law student unknowingly and tragically stepped into the path of a bullet during a botched drive-by assassination of a car wash owner.
Aya Hachem, 19, was gunned down as she walked to the supermarket to buy food for her and her family to break their Ramadan fast.
The shot which hit her was intended for Pacha Khan, the proprietor of the Quick Shine Car Wash in the centre of Blackburn.
READ MORE: Seven men jailed for 216 years for murdering Salford student
The ‘hit’, at around 3pm on Sunday, May 17 last year, was ordered by Feroz Suleman, the owner of the rival R1 Tyres next door on King Street following a long-running feud.
Seven men including Suleman, 40, and the gunman Zamir Raja, 33, were today jailed for life with minimum terms totalling 216 years at Preston Court after being convicted of her murder
And Lancashire Police has now revealed details of how they brought them to justice following what they say was “one of the most complex, widespread and meticulous investigations” in the force’s history.
Aya Hachem was a law student at Salford University
Up to 400 police officers and staff worked on the investigation, with 80,000 hours of CCTV seized, 3,959 exhibits generated, 120 phones and 180 digital devices captured, 62 scenes searched and approximately 30 vehicles seized and inspected, including the Toyota Avensis used to transport Zamir Raja as he fired with the intention of murdering Suleman’s business rival.
Warrants were executed at various addresses in Lancashire, Manchester and the West Midlands, with enquiries conducted as far as Glasgow, Dublin and London, as well as Spain and Portugal during an international manhunt to locate Raja and his driver, Anthony Ennis, who had fled the country.
The force have now shared a number of the pieces of key evidence from Operation Colindale that led to those involved in the plot being put behind bars.
Among them is the heartbreaking CCTV footage which shows Aya inadvertently walking into the line of fire as she stepped out of the way of two oncoming cyclists.
(Image: Lancashire Police)
Over the course of the 10 week trial, a jury heard that Suleman and his friend, Ayaz Hussain, recruited Zamir Raja to assassinate Mr Khan.
The pair enlisted Raja to carry out the shooting, while Ennis was recruited as the driver.
On May 17, after practising the drive-by’s route the day before, shots aimed at Quick Shine were fired from a silver Toyota Avensis, a cheap, dispensable car the group had bought especially, and which needed jump leads to get it started.
Top (L-R) Abubakr Satia, Anthony Ennis, Ayaz Hussain and Feroz Suleman Bottom (L-R) Kashif Manzoor, Uthman Satia and Zamir Raja
(Image: Lancashire Police)
Kashif Manzoor, 26, was tasked with looking after and getting the car that transported the gunman started.
In the CCTV footage above shared by police, Suleman, circled in green, could be seen on the forecourt of the opposite R1 Tyres looking over his shoulder directly at Quick Shine moments before the shooting, in anticipation of what was about to happen.
Suleman looking over his shoulder at Quick Shine leading up to the attempted assassination
Manzoor, circled in blue, could also be seen carrying jump leads believed to have started the Avensis, and looking directly at the Avensis as it was driven by.
Both were caught on the footage seemingly unconcerned in the moments after the shooting.
The court had also heard that Abubakhar Satia acquired petrol on the day of the shooting and helped Suleman get rid of his clothes following the killing, while Uthman Satia chauffeured Raja to and from the Avensis.
The car was later found dumped with a bullet cartridge found on one of the seats.
Raja, who fled along with Ennis, gloated on his social media, posting a picture with the words ‘out ere’ along with emjois of a gun and a quizzical face.
Ennis was eventually detained in Spain and extradited, with Raja held at London’s Euston station.
Police also shared the 999 call which the intended target Mr Khan, who was the first to jump over the fence to Aya’s aid, made to police.
In it, he says: “I saw the car, I saw the gun. they went past first, then they came back and they were pointing the gun at me.
“I said ‘what’ and they started shooting for me. She was just walking, she was gonna go somewhere I think.’
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Speaking after the sentencing, senior investigating officer, Detective Chief Inspector Zoe Russo from Lancashire’s Force Major Investigation Team (FMIT), said: “Today is the conclusion of what has been one of the most complex, widespread and meticulous investigations that Lancashire Police has ever undertaken.
“I personally have never worked on anything of this scale and it is certainly a case I will never forget.
The ammunition found in the car
“As an investigation team, our aim was always clear; to get justice for Aya – an innocent young woman with so much promise who was killed as she was going to the supermarket– during the holy month of Ramadan, and her family.
“With today’s results, I hope that they feel we have achieved that.
“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 Avensis used in the shooting
(Image: Lancashire Police)
“Finally, 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.”
The force said on Twitter “we hope we’ve done your proud.”
The sentences handed out
- Feroz Suleman, 40, of Shear Brow, Blackburn, Lancashire – 34 years in prison for murder, with 28 years for attempted murder
- Ayaz Hussain, 36, of Calgary Avenue, Blackburn, Lancashire – 32 years in prison for murder, with 26 years for attempted murder
Zamir Raja, 33, of Davyhulme Road, Stretford, Trafford – 34 years in prison for murder, with 28 years for attempted murder
- Antony Ennis, 31, of Grasmere Court, Partington, Trafford – 33 years in prison for murder, with 27 years for attempted murder
- Abubakhar Satia, 32, of Oxford Close, Blackburn, Lancashire – 28 years in prison for murder, with 23 years for attempted murder
- Kashif Manzoor, 26, of Shakeshaft Street, Blackburn, Lancashire – 27 years in prison for murder, with 23 years for attempted murder
- Uthman Satia, 29, St Hubert’s Road, Great Harwood, Lancashire – 28 years in prison for murder, with 23 years for attempted murder
Following the trial Judy Chapman, 26, of St Hubert’s Road, Great Harwood, was found not guilty of Aya’s murder but was convicted of her manslaughter. She will be sentenced in October.
She was also found not guilty of the attempted murder of Pacha Khan.
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