The family of a law student who was killed in a drive by shooting while walking to the shops have collected her degree during the ceremony she should have graduated in.
Aya Hachem, 19, was mistakenly shot in the chest by a hired hitman as she shopped for groceries in Blackburn, Lancashire, in May 2020. She was not the intended target of the shooting.
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 very hard-working and an amazing individual.
Aya Hachem's family (pictured: her mother Samar) were invited by the University of Salford to collect her degree on Monday, after Aya was mistakenly shot in a drive by shooting last year
Aya (pictured), 19, was shot in the chest by a hired hitman as she shopped for groceries in Blackburn, Lancashire, in May 2020. She was not the intended target of the shooting
'Seeing all the families here with the graduates is 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, associate dean of Salford Business School, said the university wanted to acknowledge what she could have gone on to achieve.
'In this circumstance, Aya's life was tragically cut short before it should have been,' he said.
'It was really important for us as a community to allow her family to come and join us and celebrate her life.
'Aya was a really well-liked student, a bright student who would have had a fantastic future ahead of her.'
Dr Janice Allan, Dean of Salford Business School, added: 'Aya was a bright and promising student with ambitions to become a solicitor.
Her brother Ibrahim (pictured) described attending what would have been Aya's graduation ceremony as 'heartbreaking', saying they would 'rather' she had been there with them
Aya's mother Samar was given a standing ovation when she was presented with her daughter's degree during the emotional graduation ceremony. Pictured: Aya Hachem
'She was driven not by personal ambition but from a desire to help others and to speak for those who do not have a voice themselves.
'Aya touched the lives of many and, through her volunteering, contributed so much.
'Her tragic and senseless death devastated everyone who knew her, including our staff and student community.
'We were honoured to be able to present a posthumous award to Aya's family at today's ceremony and to share our memories of an outstanding 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.
Despite the best efforts of passers-by, police and paramedics, Aya died after being taken to hospital.
CCTV captured the law student walking past the garage on the way to Lidl before she was hit in the chest by a stray bullet shot from a Toyota Avensis.
She was not the intended target of the shooting, which came after a long-running feud between rival tyre firm owners Feroz Suleman and Pachah Khan.
Preston Crown Court heard the drive-by shooting was organised by Suleman, who had been embroiled in a bitter feud with his neighbour and business rival Mr Khan.
The court heard the feud between Suleman and Mr Khan started in 2019 when Quickshine began selling tyres next door to RI after previously only washing cars.
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.
On his behalf, his legal team argued it was never his intention to kill and he had set out on a mission to 'scare or intimidate' Mr Khan and his workers at Quickshine Tyres.
Seven people were jailed in August to a total of more than 200 years for their involvement in the killing of Aya and the attempted murder of Mr Khan.
Aya was shot by hired hitman Zamir Raja, 33, near Quick Shine Car Wash on May 17, 2020, while she out was shopping in Blackburn. One of the bullets hit near a workman (pictured)
Aya's distraught parents previously described her (left and right) as the 'most loyal, devoted daughter' who enjoyed spending time with her family
The gunman, Zamir Raja, 33, of Stretford, was jailed for a minimum of 34 years and his driver, Anthony Ennis, 31, of Partington, must serve at least 33 years.
Fellow accomplices Ayaz Hussain, 36, Abubakr Satia, 32, both of Blackburn; his brother, Uthman Satia, 29, of Great Harwood, and Kashif Manzoor, 26, of Blackburn were handed minimum terms of 32 years, 28 years, 28 years, and 27 years, respectively.
Judy Chapman, the girlfriend of Satia, drove the gunman and driver from Bolton to the Toyota Avensis, which was used to carry out the shooting, and collected them afterwards.
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.
In a statement, Aya's father Ismail previously told the court: 'They didn't just kill Aya, they killed our family. The light in our lives has gone out.'
Aya's distraught parents also described her as the 'most loyal, devoted daughter' who enjoyed spending time with her family.
Aya and her family were known to be heavily involved with Blackburn's asylum seeker and refugee community.
Her family had fled war-torn Lebanon for a new life in the UK when she was a youngster and she had passed her second year exams shortly before her tragic death.
She was a trustee with the Children's Society and won Student of the Year at Blackburn Central High School in 2016.
In a touching tribute, Aya's family previously said: 'To our dear beautiful angel in heaven we know you are in a better and more beautiful place.
'We are so proud of you and we miss you so much - our lives are difficult without you.
'You will remain in our hearts forever.
'You loved life and despite all the struggles and barriers that we faced in this country, it did not stop you contributing to your community and charites including the Children's Society and fundraising at Salford University where you were studying to become a barrister.
'God chose you as an angel in his heaven. Heaven is yours and may God give us the patience after your murder. We love you.'