The intended target of a drive-by shooting in which a law student was murdered has told Sky News in an exclusive interview he “can’t believe so many people would try to kill someone over tyres”.
It comes after seven men were given life sentences of up to 34 years over the killing of Aya Hachem during the botched attack in Blackburn, Lancashire, in May last year.
Pacha Khan, who was the target of the shooting orchestrated by rival businessman Feroz Suleman, says he is scared for his life and for his family.
The 31-year-old survived the attack when the hitman hired to kill him, Zamir Raja, missed and instead murdered 19-year-old Ms Hachem, who was said to be in the “wrong place at the wrong time”.
Mr Khan, the owner of Quick Shine Car Wash, had angered Suleman, the boss of neighbouring RI Tyres, when his business began to sell tyres and became a direct competitor.
A bitter feud developed and Suleman ordered the execution of Mr Khan, telling his ally Ayaz Hussain to recruit an assassin.
Wearing a mask and standing outside his Quick Shine Tyres business in Blackburn, Mr Khan told Sky News: “I came to this country to better my life, like the Hachem family did. And I can’t believe so many people would try to kill someone over tyres.”
Mr Khan came to the UK in 2016, fleeing violence in Afghanistan. He says he hasn’t been able to sleep since the day of the shooting.
Ms Hachem was shot on 17 May last year as she walked to a supermarket to buy food so her family could break their Ramadan fast that evening.
She died after a bullet entered her left shoulder, passed through her body and embedded itself in a telegraph pole.
“When the shooting took place I didn’t care about my own safety, and did what I could to help Aya, which unfortunately wasn’t enough,” Mr Khan said.
Ms Hachem’s family have visited the scene of the shooting, outside Mr Khan’s tyre business.
The telegraph pole was adorned with flowers and fairy lights.
Her father Ismael Hachem pointed out where the bullet was lodged.
“Bullet hit here,” he gestured, as he tied white carnations and pink roses to the pole.
Mr Hachem wiped tears away from Aya’s mother’s cheeks. Samar Salame sat on the floor, scattering petals and quietly saying prayers.
A few passers-by stopped to pay their respects, including former mayor Salim Mulla who promised to help the family create a lasting tribute at the scene.
The victim’s brother, Ibrahim Hachem, moved from comforting one parent to the other.
“Whatever these criminals get, Aya’s not coming back,” he said. “We lost her.”
“Every time I look at her picture, I feel like it’s just happened.”