THE man accused of firing the bullet which killed a 19-year-old law student has pleaded guilty to her unlawful killing.

A charge of the manslaughter of Aya Hachem was put to Zamir Raja, of Stretford, on Friday morning, to which the ‘hired hitman’ pleaded guilty.

However the trial is set to continue as the prosecution pursue a murder charge against him.

It is the first time that the 33-year-old has admitted having any involvement in the crime, which took place on May 17 last year on King Street, Blackburn.

Seven others also stand trial accused of the murder of Aya and the attempted murder of Pachah Khan, who the prosecution say the bullet was intended for.

Speaking to the court after Raja pleaded guilty to the offence of manslaughter, prosecutor Nicholas Johnson QC said: “As your Lordship knows, that plea is not acceptable to The Crown and we propose to continue against Mr Raja.”

The Judge, the Honourable Mr Justice Mark Turner, then addressed the jury saying: “By way of brief explanation, the position of the prosecution is that they continue to assert that Mr Raja is guilty of murder. As you have heard he has pleaded guilty to manslaughter but because the prosecution wish to proceed on the murder charge – as they are entitled to elect – the trial will continue.”

On Monday Raja gave evidence in court, giving his account of what he was doing before, after and during the shooting. Abubakr Satia – the man it is alleged sourced the vehicle that was used in the shooting – has also been giving evidence this week.

It is the prosecution’s case that businessman Feroz Suleman arranged the execution of work rival Pachah Khan in broad daylight – and watched on as Aya was killed instead.

A Toyota Avensis driven by Anthony Ennis, 31, with alleged hitman Zamir Raja, 33, on board drove past Quickshine Tyres on three occasions shortly before the fatal fourth journey, the court heard.

Footage from CCTV cameras captured Suleman stood outside his premises next door at RI Tyres with a “ringside seat” to the shooting he had arranged, said the prosecution.

The first shot hit the front window of Quickshine and the second was let off as Miss Hachem walked by.

Mr Johnson said: “The bullet, rather than hitting its intended target, hit her."

The vehicle made off and Judy Chapman, 26, and boyfriend Uthman Satia, 29, were waiting to transport the Manchester assassins away from the scene at a car park in nearby Wellington Road, said Mr Johnson.

Earlier before the shooting, Kashif Manzoor, 26, say the Crown, made sure the Avensis was ready for the assassins as he jump-started the vehicle bought for just £300 by Uthman Satia’s brother, Abubakr Satia, 32, a week earlier.

Ayaz Hussain, 35, described as Suleman’s “right-hand man”, was said to have acted as an intermediary with alleged gunman Raja.

Mr Johnson said all eight accused played an “important and significant part”.

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

The defendants have also pleaded not guilty to the attempted murder of Mr Khan.