Burnley murder accused accepts supernatural spirits did not kill doctor and daughter

A handyman accused of murdering a doctor and her teenage daughter says he now realises another human being killed them rather than supernatural spirits, a court has heard.

Monday, 28th June 2021, 9:50 am
Updated Monday, 28th June 2021, 9:54 am

Shahbaz Khan (51) had told police he saw a 620-year-old “jinn”, named Robert, and his “ex-wife Rita” while working at the home of Dr Saman Mir Sacharvi (49) and 14-year-old Vian Mangrio.

Following his arrest over the deaths, he wrote to various people from prison and said Rita and Dr Sacharvi had killed Vian before an “angry” Robert then went upstairs and killed the psychiatrist, Preston Crown Court heard.

Giving evidence on Friday, Khan told prosecutor David McLachlan QC he believes another person entered the house in Burnley, Lancashire, and took their lives after he left the address at about 10pm on September 30th last year.

Dr Saman Mir Sacharvi (49) and her 14-year-old daughter, Vian Mangrio.
Dr Saman Mir Sacharvi (49) and her 14-year-old daughter, Vian Mangrio.

The prosecutor said: “You accept now it is not the jinns?”

Khan replied: “Now I am taking medication. I am taking eight to 10 tablets a day, so my brain feels slightly better.”

It is alleged that the defendant, a former computer network engineer in his native Pakistan, strangled Dr Sacharvi and then attacked her daughter when she returned from school.

He is then alleged to have set fires at the property in Colne Road, Reedley, including the severe burning of Vian in the lounge, an attempt to set Dr Sacharvi alight in the upstairs front bedroom, and another blaze in the kitchen.

Mr McLachlan said: “You put something around Dr Sacharvi’s neck and you pulled it as tight as you could until she stopped breathing.”

Khan said: “That’s not true.”

Mr McLachlan said: “Did you kneel on her back and wait for her 14-year-old daughter to get in?”

“No,” replied the defendant.

The prosecutor went on: “Did you use her school tie to kill her?”

Khan said: “No.”

Khan, who also worked part-time as a customer assistant at Tesco in Burnley, said he was “like a family friend” to the pair and that Vian was “like a daughter”.

During his 10 hours at the address on September 30th, the internet router became inactive just before 1-50pm and Dr Sacharvi and Vian’s mobile phones – which are missing – were disconnected later in the afternoon.

Khan denied being responsible and said neither of them had complained to him about the problems while he was there. The father-of-four was arrested three days after the bodies of the two victims were discovered by police on the morning of October 1st.

Police found jewellery worth tens of thousands of pounds belonging to Dr Sacharvi in a loft at Khan’s home – which he claims the doctor asked him to keep for “security purposes” whenever she left the country. Also recovered from his address was a purple Samsung phone, which contained Google searches on the morning of September 30th for “obsessed” and “defined obsessed”.

Khan told the court the phone was accessible to all his family and he had not made the searches. He said his English was “not good” and he did not know the meaning of the word.

Khan, of Ribble Avenue, Burnley, denies two counts of murder and one count of arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

His wife, Rabia Shahbaz (45), also of Ribble Avenue, denies doing an act intended to pervert the course of public justice, namely giving a false alibi for Khan.

The trial continues