ANOTHER defendant in the Aya Hachem murder trial has pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
Ayaz Hussain – the man the prosecution say was the link between hitman Zamir Raja and alleged organiser Feroz Suleman, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Aya this morning, July 21.
Raja is the only other defendant in the case to have entered a guilty plea to manslaughter, mid-way through the trial on June 18.
The remaining defendants – Judy Chapman, Anthony Ennis, Kashif Manzoor, Uthman Satia, Abubakr Satia and Suleman all pleaded not guilty to the new count of manslaughter earlier today.
At the start of the trial in May, all eight defendants entered not guilty pleas to the murder of Aya Hachem and the attempted murder of Pachah Khan.
The prosecution continues to pursue a murder charge against both Hussain and Raja despite their manslaughter pleas.
Over the last nine weeks, the jury have heard evidence from all defendants bar Judy Chapman.
It is the prosecution’s case that the eight individuals played an ‘important and significant’ role in the death of Aya – who was said to have been in the ‘wrong place at the wrong time’ when she was killed in the drive-by shooting on King Street, Blackburn, on May 17 last year.
Nicholas Johnson QC, prosecuting the case, has told the jury that owner of RI Tyres Suleman set up the shooting – hiring Raja to take out his business rival Mr Khan.
However Raja missed his intended target, instead firing one shot at the window of Mr Khan’s business Quickshine Tyres, and a second which instantly killed Aya.
Ennis and Hussain have both told the jury they were aware of a plan to scare Mr Khan and other workers at Quickshine, but deny having any knowledge that somebody was to be hurt or killed.
In due course, the jury will have to consider if Hussain and Raja are guilty of the remaining counts of murder and attempted murder.
For the remaining six defendants they will have to consider verdicts on all three counts; manslaughter, murder and attempted murder.