Six people have appeared in a UK court charged with the murder of 19-year-old British-Lebanese woman Aya Ha chem.
Hachem died after receiving a gunshot wound to the chest in a drive-by shooting on 17 May. The British-Lebanese was gunned down while on her way to shop at Lidl, just 100 metres from her family’s home.
The court heard the shooting was part of a business dispute between two rival tyre firms – RI Tyres and Quick Shine.
Alexander Langhorn, for the prosecution, said it was the Crown’s case that the intended target was Pachah Khan, owner and manager of Quick Shine.
The six defendants, Blackburn residents Feroz Suleman, 39, Kashif Manzoor, 24, Ayaz Hussain, 34, Judy Chapman, 26, Uthman Satia, 28, and Abubakir Satia, 31, appeared via video link at Preston Crown Court. The six are also charged with the attempted murder of Khan.
The sextet have been remanded in custody ahead of a hearing on 16 October when they will be expected to enter pleas.
A provisional trial date of 4 May next year was set. However, the honorary recorder of Preston, Judge Mark Brown, said this date was “a worst-case scenario” and hoped it might be brought forward.
In a statement last week, her parents said: “Our beautiful daughter, Aya, has been taken from us in the most horrific circumstances. She was the most loyal, devoted daughter who enjoyed spending time with her family, especially her brothers and sisters.”
“She excelled in her studies both at Blackburn Central High School and at Salford University, where she was in her second year and dreamt of becoming a solicitor. She had just completed her exams and was learning to drive.”
Hachem was born in Lebanon and arrived in Britain a decade ago with her family. Her father, Ishmael, secured his British citizenship last year, the Times reported.
After her tragic death last week, Hachem’s body was transported to Lebanon, where her family and friends carried her coffin from their family house in Koleileh to the family’s cemetery, in a southern tradition.
The trip was the first time Aya’s father had returned to Lebanon since the family’s departure ten years ago.
Head of the Koleileh municipality, Mohamad Chemali, told Middle East Eye (MEE), the village had been observing coronavirus-related restrictions, but had made an exception for Hachem’s funeral.
“The shock was immense, the extended family and the residents of Koleileh want to honour the death of young Aya,” Chemali said.
“We thought the UK would provide her with better opportunities, a safe life and better prospects. We were wrong; it offered death.”