THE man accused of firing the bullet which killed a 19-year-old law student has said he can’t have been responsible, as he was attempting to carry out a drug deal at the time she was shot.

Zamir Raja is one of eight people accused of killing Aya Hachem and charged with the attempted murder of Pachah Khan on May 17 last year.

The 33-year-old was the first defendant to give evidence and to be cross-examined as the trial entered its fifth week on Monday.

On Monday (June 14) Raja’s defence barrister, Peter Glenser QC, started by asking him about his movements on the day before and the day of the Blackburn shooting.

The Manchester man, who admitted he was a cannabis dealer, said on May 16 he had travelled to Blackburn to meet with Ayaz Hussain about a cannabis deal. Hussain also stands accused of the same offences.

The next day Raja said he went to Bolton with co-defendant Anthony Ennis to sell Hussain a kilo of cannabis. Once the pair had arrived in the town Raja said they were met in a Ford Fiesta driven by Judy Chapman and Uthman Satia.

Raja states that he got into the back of the Fiesta with Ennis before a third man he had never met before got into the back of the vehicle. When he noticed the man was ‘carrying a firearm’ he got out of the car.

He said: “ I thought I was being robbed. I didn’t know what was going on.”

He states he and Ennis got out of the vehicle while the other three went to get Hussain. Around half an hour later they returned, he states.

Raja went on to say that he was told Hussain was busy and couldn’t do anything with the cannabis. He was told that he would be in touch later that day to sort the situation out.

Mr Glenser then said: “Later there is an exchange of calls – or an attempt, with Ayaz Hussain. Is that right?” Raja responded: “Yes sir.”

Mr Glenser: “What was that to do with?” He said: “To find out what had actually gone on. I had absolutely been messed about. Drove all the way to Bolton with that cannabis, could have got locked up.”

Mr Glenser finished by asking his client three final questions; Were you the gunman? Did you shoot Aya Hachem? Were you anything to do with being in possession of a Glock pistol?

Raja answered no to all of them.

It is the prosecution’s case that Aya was the unintentional target of a planned hit ordered by Blackburn businessman Feroz Suleman.

The jury has been told that Suleman organised the hit on business rival Pachah Khan - hiring Raja to carry-out the shooting.

Suleman, of, Blackburn; Raja, of Stretford; Ennis, of Partington, Greater Manchester; Kashif Manzoor, of, Blackburn; Hussain, of Blackburn; Abubakr Satia, of Blackburn; Uthman Satia, of Great Harwood; and Chapman, of Great Harwood, all deny murder and attempted murder.

Raja denies knowing any of the other defendants bar Hussain or Ennis or the victim. (Proceeding)