A student who was shot dead in the street amid a dispute between two neighbours was “in the wrong place at the wrong time”, a court has heard.
Aya Hachem, a 19-year-old law student, was a killed in a drive-by shooting in Blackburn, Lancashire, on 17 May last year.
The jury at Preston crown court was told that the incident was a result of a long-running dispute between Feroz Suleman and Pachah Khan, who both ran neighbouring tyre firms.
Eight people have pleaded not guilty to murder, and not guilty to the attempted murder of Khan.
Opening the case on Thursday, the prosecutor, Nicholas Johnson QC, said that bad blood between the men had been building over time, and reached the extent where a plan was created to kill Khan at his establishment.
Johnson said: “At 3pm on Sunday 17 May, Aya Hachem was shot dead whilst walking along King Street in Blackburn.
“She was shot by Zamir Raja who was sitting in the back of a Toyota Avensis being driven by Anthony Ennis.”
He continued that Hachem had no connection to either Khan or Raja, and that she was “simply unlucky” and “in the wrong place at the wrong time”.
“Raja’s intended target, or one of his intended targets, was Pachah Khan,” said Johnson. “Zamir Raja’s first shot hit one of the windows of [Khan’s business], the second hit Aya Hachem.”
Suleman, 40, of, Blackburn; Raja, 33, of Stretford, Greater Manchester; Ennis, 31, of Partington, Greater Manchester; Kashif Manzoor, 26, of, Blackburn; Ayaz Hussain, 35, of Blackburn; Abubakr Satia, 32, of Blackburn; his brother Uthman Satia, 29, of Great Harwood; and Judy Chapman, 26, of Great Harwood, all deny murder and attempted murder.
The prosecution said that the feud began in early 2019, and that “initially, incidents between the businesses that came to the notice of the police were relatively petty”.
However, their relationship further deteriorated in December of that year when Suleman’s business was set on fire.
“The individuals involved in starting the fire have not been identified,” the prosecution said. “For all we know it may have been someone who had no connection to either of the two businesses. What matters is that Feroz Suleman was adamant with the police that it was Pachah Khan who was responsible for trying to burn his business down.”
The prosecution said that by early May 2020, a “serious plan has been hatched by the defendants to shoot someone at [Khan’s establishment]”. They added that Suleman was the “organiser of the whole thing”, while the other defendants acted either as getaway drivers or played another role.
The trial continues, and is expected to last 10 weeks.