Seven people, who each played individual roles in the planning and execution of a shooting which killed a young woman in Blackburn, have been found guilty of her murder.
The seven men were convicted today (Tuesday, August 3rd) of the murder of Aya Hachem, 19, and the attempted murder of the intended target, Pacha Khan, then 30, also from Blackburn, following a twelve-week trial at Preston Crown Court.
A woman - Judy Chapman - was found guilty of Aya’s manslaughter but not guilty of the attempted murder of Pacha Khan.
Each of the defendants were convicted for their distinct roles in the shooting.
- Feroz Suleman, 40, of Shear Brow, Blackburn instigated and organised the hit.
- Abubakr Satia, 32, of Oxford Close, Blackburn sourced the Avensis used in the shooting and was also involved in buying petrol afterwards to burn out the car, however, this did not go ahead.
- Kashif Manzoor, 26, of Shakeshaft Street, Blackburn was responsible for ensuring the Avensis used to transport the shooter was running on the day of the incident.
- Judy Chapman, 26, of St Hubert’s Road, Great Harwood, drove the gunman and driver from Bolton to the Avensis on Wellington Road, Blackburn and collected them afterwards in the afternoon of the shooting.
- Uthman Satia, 29, of St Hubert’s Road, Great Harwood – Judy Chapman’s partner - was also responsible for transporting the gunman and driver to and from the Avensis on Wellington Road as Chapman’s front seat passenger.
- Ayaz Hussain, 35, of Calgary Avenue, Blackburn 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 the petrol to burn out the Avensis was bought.
- Zamir Raja, 33, of Davyhulme Road, Stretford, Manchester 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 drove the Avensis carrying the gunman during the shooting.
The seven men will be sentenced on Thursday, August 5, with Judy Chapman expected to be sentenced in October.
The incident unfolded on Sunday, May 17th last year on King Street after days of planning, which included hiring a hitman from outside of the area with access to a gun, sourcing and purchasing a car to transport the shooter, a reconnaissance mission to map out the route to take before and after the shooting, various meetings between those with key roles and attempts by some of the group to distance themselves from being linked to the killing, including the purchasing of burner phones.
Aya Hachem was on a shopping trip, heading to the nearby Lidl supermarket to buy food, ready for her family to eat when they broke their Ramadan fast that evening. Sadly, she never made it home.
As she walked by Quick Shine Car Wash, she was struck by a bullet shot from a passing Toyota Avensis. It travelled through her body and came to a stop in a nearby telegraph pole.
Police launched a major investigation known as Operation Colindale and in the following days and weeks, 23 people were arrested in connection with the shooting and assisting those involved.
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 the gunman, Zamir Raja and driver, Anthony Ennis, who had fled the country.
As the investigation gained momentum and their involvement became clearer due to vast CCTV, telephony and other digital forensic enquiries including the examination of car data, the large team of officers and staff began to focus in on the eight defendants who were subsequently charged and stood trial.
The shooting was instigated by Feroz Suleman, owner of RI Tyres and was the culmination of an on-going rivalry with Pacha Khan, the proprietor of Quick Shine Car Wash next door. It began when they started to sell tyres, putting them in direct competition with RI.
The most recent dispute happened on Friday 1st May 2020, when a workman trying to access Quick Shine’s yard to put up a sign for RI Tyres was denied entry and allegedly threatened.
Five days later on 6th May, the planning began. Abubakr Satia contacted an associate to arrange to buy a cheap, expendable car, which was to be used in the shooting. On 10th May, he paid £300 for a 53 plate Toyota Avensis, financed by Feroz Suleman. It was in working order but had a battery issue meaning it often needed jump starting.
On the evening before Aya was killed (Saturday, May 16th), Zamir Raja and Anthony Ennis met with up with Ayaz Hussain and Feroz Suleman in Blackburn after travelling together to Liverpool in an associate’s car.
At around 6:35pm, the four, driven by Hussain, scoped out and travelled the route the Avensis was to take, meaning that Raja and Ennis – from Manchester - could familiarise themselves with the area ahead of what was due to take place the following day.
Suleman, who had left his mobile phone in his car which was parked up on his street to provide an alibi for his location, was seen on CCTV hanging out of the back of the car when collecting latex gloves from a colleague at another RI Tyres location on Copy Nook.
The Avensis was moved onto a car park on Wellington Road a short time later, ready to be used the next afternoon. It was also where it was to be dumped after the shooting.
Later that night, Suleman – who had been uncontactable due to his phone being in his car – was contacted by his girlfriend who accused him of being unfaithful. Kashif Mansoor messaged her to try and explain that Suleman had not cheated on her but instead, they had been up to something, saying “you’ll find out tomorrow probably read it in the papers.”
In a voice note sent to the same woman over Instagram in the early hours of the day of the shooting (Sunday, May 17th), Suleman said: “I was actually on a little bit of a mission…”
Later that day at around 1:50pm, Judy Chapman and her boyfriend, Uthman Satia, drove from their home in Great Harwood in her car, a blue Ford Fiesta, to the car park on Wellington Road, where Uthman checked on the Avensis.
At around 2:25pm, the pair began their journey to collect Raja and Ennis from Bolton. CCTV captured them getting into Chapman’s Fiesta, with Uthman Satia collapsing the passenger seat to allow them access. Ennis was seen carrying two plastic bags, while Raja was also in possession of a separate carrier bag.
At 2:40pm, Kashif Manzoor went to the Wellington Road car park, jumpstarting the Avensis and kept watch of it whilst it was running, ahead of the arrival of Chapman’s Fiesta containing the shooter and driver.
Whilst on their journey at around 2:45pm, Chapman and her passengers, Uthman Satia, Raja and Ennis met with Ayaz Hussain and Abubakr Satia – in his Range Rover - on Jack Walker Way. Here, it is believed, they were given final instructions.
Afterwards, the Fiesta continued to Wellington Road, where Zamir Raja and Anthony Ennis exited, getting into the Avensis to carry out their planned execution. They left with Ennis at the wheel and Raja in the back at 2:57pm, driving by Quick Shine on the opposite side of the road.
They went behind RI Tyres, turning around so they would be on the same side of the road as Quick Shine and their target, Pacha Khan. The back window of the car was lowered in preparation.
They drove by a second time, where Mr Khan was stood outside. Feroz Suleman, on the forecourt of RI Tyres, was seen on CCTV looking over his shoulder towards Quick Shine, in anticipation of what was he thought was about to happen.
The Avensis passed by, turned around in a street behind again, repeating the journey past Quick Shine without incident. Before the final trip, the back-passenger window was again lowered in preparation for the firearm to be aimed and fired.
As this was happening, Kashif Manzoor pulled up at RI in his car, parking on the forecourt. He got out, carrying jump leads which are believed to have started the Avensis around 20 minutes previously and was seen on CCTV looking directly at it as the car was driven by a final time.
At 3pm, the Avensis passed Quick Shine on the fourth occasion, slowing down as it travelled by. The gun was pointed towards Pacha Khan, fired, and hit one of Quick Shine’s windows.
It then sped up and a second shot was fired, sadly hitting Aya Hachem. Pacha Khan instantly jumped over a surrounding fence to go and help, whilst Suleman showed little reaction.
Ennis and Raja continued onto Wellington Road, dumped the Avensis and got into Chapman’s Fiesta who, still in company of her boyfriend Uthman Satia, drove them back to Bolton.
Just after the shooting at 3:01pm, Ayaz Hussain and Abubakr Satia visited Rosehill Service Station, filling a jerry can with petrol, which is believed to have been destined for burning out the Avensis.
The pair then went back to the scene of the shooting in Satia’s Range Rover, which slowed down as it passed a crowd of people who had rushed to assist Aya as she lay injured on the ground. It is thought that the gathering of the public and the responding police patrols deterred the pair from carrying out the plan to burn the Avensis. Instead, they headed away from the scene and Hussain called Feroz Suleman.
Police flooded the area and located the Avensis within an hour of the shots being fired. A subsequent search revealed an unspent cartridge similar to a bullet found on the forecourt of Quick Shine, in the rear of the car.
As officers went to view CCTV at RI Tyres given the building’s close proximity to Quick Shine, Ayaz Hussain was seen looking visibly shocked when the footage showed Aya being shot. Suleman then gestured towards the door, walking out of the room with Hussain and Abubakr Satia. The trio walked to an upstairs area but returned to where the CCTV was being watched by officers within minutes.
Abubakr Satia was still in the room when a voice announced over police radio that the Avensis had been found. He hastily exited the room and went to speak to Suleman and Hussain, who were now on the forecourt of RI. They got in Abubakr Satia’s Range Rover and headed in the direction of Wellington Road – where the Avensis had been dumped - before returning.
Feroz Suleman was arrested the day after (Monday, May 18th), followed by Abubakr Satia on Tuesday 19th May. His car was seized and whilst police were waiting it for to be collected, Satia’s phone – on the driver’s seat – was remotely wiped. Specialist officers were, however, later able to recover its contents.
Judy Chapman and Uthman Satia’s arrests followed on Wednesday, May 20th, with Ayaz Hussain and Kashif being detained on Thursday, May 21st.
Nine days after Aya was killed on Tuesday 26th May, Zamir Raja – driven by an associate he intimidated into taking him - travelled to Glasgow Airport and boarded a flight to Dublin, catching a further plane to Lisbon in Portugal.
Three days later (Friday 29th May), Anthony Ennis flew out of Heathrow Airport using a relative’s passport, meeting up with Raja at Lisbon Airport.
The pair booked into a hotel in Marbella on Wednesday, June 3rd with Raja boarding a ferry from France to the UK on Friday 5th June.
He was arrested at Euston Train Station in London the following day (Saturday, June 6th), close to a train which was departing to Manchester.
A search of the Nissan Juke which Raja drove to Liverpool with Anthony Ennis on Saturday 16th May, revealed a similar bullet to the one that killed Aya.
On Saturday 4th July, Anthony Ennis was arrested by Spanish authorities in Fuengirola. He was later extradited back to the UK.
Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Zoe Russo from Lancashire’s Force Major Investigation Team (FMIT), said:
“I am delighted with the outcome of the trial which is the result of months of challenging and meticulous police work. Throughout this long and incredibly complex investigation, our focus has been clear: to find the people involved in this most serious course of offending; bring them before the court; and to ensure that Aya’s family receive justice.
“We must, however, not forget that these convictions will not bring Aya back. Her family continues to mourn her loss. Aya was a remarkable and much loved 19 year old woman.
“Aya and her family had left Lebanon for the safety of England. Her dream was to qualify and practise as a solicitor. On the 17th May last year, during the holy month of Ramadan, Aya was going about her daily business when she was shot dead, in the course of a drive-by shooting, by these criminals who were pursuing a vendetta against Pacha Khan, a rival businessman.
“Feroz Suleman ordered the execution of Pacha Khan. Ayaz Hussain, Suleman’s trusted ally, recruited the gunman, Zamir Raja, and his driver, Anthony Ennis. The remaining four defendants all played vital roles in this planned execution of Pacha Khan.
“They sought to avoid detection through 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. My team, however, were not deterred, despite the difficulties caused by the pandemic which took them throughout the UK and the continent. Thankfully, we were able to put together all the numerous pieces of a large jigsaw puzzle and establish the motive behind the shooting and who was involved.
“My thanks go to each and every police officer and member of police staff who relentlessly tracked down these criminals and gathered the evidence, which has helped secure these convictions. I also wish to express my sincere thanks for the excellent work carried out by CPS lawyer Alan Richardson and Prosecution Counsel; Nicholas Johnson QC (7hs), Alex Langhorn and Matthew Conway.
“Finally, my thoughts and sympathies are very much with Aya’s family for the devastating loss they have suffered. They have had to endure a twelve-week trial and listened to the lies of each of the eight defendants, none of whom showed any responsibility or remorse for their actions. The death of someone we love is excruciating, especially when that person is one’s child. Aya’s parents will never get over her death. They will, however, I hope, with time, come to terms with Aya’s passing and rebuild themselves around their loss. I hope these convictions go some way to laying the foundations for that long rebuilding process”.
Alan Richardson, Senior Crown Prosecutor, added:
’Each of these callous conspirators is in their way responsible for the senseless killing of Aya Hachem – an innocent young woman full of promise who lost her life as a result of a petty business rivalry.
“The ruthlessness of everyone involved is staggering, with the group going to extreme lengths to plan an assassination in broad daylight – risking the lives of members of the public going about their daily business.
“Even when the wrong target was hit, they refused to display any guilt or remorse and denied involvement in this devastating murder.
‘’We would like to thank the police for their meticulous work on this case. Together the CPS and police were able to build a strong case against each of them by detailed forensic analysis of many hours of CCTV and telephone evidence.
‘’Today our thoughts are with Aya Hachem’s loved ones and we hope they feel justice has now been served.’’
Aya’s family have paid the following tribute:
“We thank God for the justice that has been served today.
“To our dear beautiful angel in heaven we know you are in a better and more beautiful place. God chose you from amongst many and blessed you with martyrdom.
“We are so proud of you and we miss you so much – our lives are difficult without you. This is God’s decree and praise be to God for this. You will remain in our hearts forever.
“You loved life and despite all the struggles and barriers that we faced in this country, it did not stop you contributing to your community and charites including the Children’s Society and fundraising at Salford University where you were studying to become a barrister.
“God chose you as an angel in his heaven. Heaven is yours and may God give us the patience after your murder. We love you.
“We thank Detective Chief Inspector Zoe Russo and her team of dedicated police officers who worked so hard to build a strong case against the defendants who have been convicted today.
“Also, to the Crown Prosecution Service, represented by Mr. Johnson, from the first moments of Aya’s murder until the last moments of the trial.
“We also thank Mr Justice Turner, who managed the court proceedings with confidence and wisdom.
“We offer thanks to the jury for their time and effort to listen for 12 weeks and to distinguish truth from falsehood, lies and honesty.
“Special thanks to the ARC Centre and the wider community of Blackburn including the many families that have offered their support in this difficult time.”
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