A family member of a deceased law student was tragically killed while trying to walk to the shops in an accident that involved a driver by shooting. They have now received her degree at the ceremony where she would have been graduating.
Aya Hachem, 19, was mistakenly shot in the chest by a hired hitman as she shopped for groceries in Blackburn, Lancashire, in May 2020. The shooting did not target her.
Aya, an aspiring solicitor, was only halfway through her law studies when she was killed and her family were invited to collect her degree from the University of Salford on Monday.
Her brother Ibrahim described attending what would have been Aya’s graduation ceremony as ‘heartbreaking’, saying they would ‘rather’ she had been there with them.
He told the BBC: ‘We knew she was going to graduate, it was going to be easy for her. She was a hard worker and an extraordinary individual.
After Aya’s mistakenly shooting in the drive-by shooting last year, her family was invited by University of Salford for Monday to receive her degree.
Aya, 19, was hit in the chest in May 2020 by a hired hitman while she was shopping for groceries in Blackburn (Lancashire), The shooting did not target her.
“Seeing the faces of the parents and the graduates here is so heartbreaking.”
Aya’s mother Samar was given a standing ovation when she was presented with her daughter’s degree during the emotional ceremony.
Eighteen months after her death, Ibrahim said his family are still struggling to come to terms with their loss, describing his sister as ‘like an angel’.
Charles Knight, Salford Business School associate dean, stated that the university would like to recognize what she might have done.
He stated that Aya’s tragically short life in this situation was more than appropriate.
“It was important that we as a community allow her family and friends to join us to celebrate her life.
“Aya, who was very well liked and bright, would have had an amazing future.”
Dr Janice Allan from Salford Business School said that Aya was bright and promising, with aspirations to be a lawyer.
Ibrahim, her brother (pictured), described Aya’s graduation ceremony in heartbreaking terms. He said they would rather she was there than she would be.
Samar, Aya’s mother was standing in a standing ovation as she received her daughter’s diploma during the emotional ceremony. Pictured: Aya Hachem
“She didn’t pursue personal ambition; she was motivated by the desire to assist others and advocate for those without voices.”
“Aya” touched many lives and contributed greatly through her volunteer work.
“Her senseless and tragic death left a deep impression on all who were close to her, even our students and staff.
“We felt honored to offer Aya’s family an award posthumously and share our thoughts on a remarkable student and humanitarian.
Aya was shot in the chest by hired hitman Zamir Raja, 33, near Quick Shine Car Wash in Blackburn on May 17, 2020, while she out was shopping for food, ready for her family to eat when they broke their Ramadan fast that evening.
Aya, despite the efforts of paramedics and police, died shortly after she was admitted to hospital.
CCTV footage captured the law student on her way to Lidl, as she passed the garage. She was then hit in the chest with a bullet from a Toyota Avensis.
This shooting took place after long-running disputes between Pachah Khan and Feroz Suleman who were rivals in tyre business.
Preston Crown Court was told that Suleman organized the drive-by shooting. He had been involved in a bitter feud and business dispute with Mr Khan.
Court heard that the dispute between Suleman Khan and Khan began in 2019, when Quickshine, who had been washing cars only at first, started selling tyres to RI next door.
Suleman hired Raja, a hitman from Manchester, to carry out the shooting for the price of £1,500.
Raja refused to fully participate in cross-examination and later pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
His legal team supported him and said that he never intended to kill, but that he was on a mission “scare or incite” Mr Khan and the workers of Quickshine Tyres.
For their role in Aya’s killing and Mr Khan’s attempted assassination, seven men were sent to prison in August for a combined total of over 200 years.
Aya was out shopping in Blackburn when Zamir Raja (33) shot her. A bullet was fired near the workman. (pictured).
Aya’s devastated parents described Aya (left and right), as the’most loyal, dedicated daughter’ who loved time spent with her family.
In addition to the minimum 34 year sentence for Zamir Raja (33) of Stretford; Anthony Ennis (31), of Partington was required to serve at least 33.
Ayaz and Abubakr, who are both 36-year-old accomplices, were also handed terms. His brother Uthman Satia of Great Harwood was 29, while Kashif Manzoor, 26, from Blackburn received minimum terms at 32, 28, 28 and 28 years.
Judy Chapman was Satia’s girlfriend. She drove Satia and the driver to Bolton in the Toyota Avensis and then collected the victims.
She was found guilty of Aya’s manslaughter but not guilty of the attempted murder of Khan following a trial at Preston Crown Court and was jailed for 15 years.
Aya’s father Ismail stated that Aya was not only killed, but his entire family. Our lives are darkened.
Aya’s parents described Aya as distraught. The’most loyal and devoted daughter’, who loved spending time with her family.
Aya, her family and friends were well-known to be involved in Blackburn’s refugee and asylum seekers community.
When she was young, her family fled war-torn Lebanon to start a new life in Britain. She had just passed her second year exam shortly before her tragic passing.
In 2016, she won the Student of Year award at Blackburn Central High School. She also served as a trustee to the Children’s Society.
Aya’s family expressed deep condolences, saying that Aya was a beautiful angel from heaven and they know she is in a more peaceful place.
“We’re so proud of your achievements and miss you very much. Our lives wouldn’t be the same without you.
“You will always be in our hearts.”
You loved living and, despite the difficulties and obstacles that faced you in the country, you still enjoyed your life.
God chose you to be an angel for his heaven. Heaven is yours, may God grant you patience after your crime. We love you.’