Murder: Handyman who killed doctor and her teenage daughter jailed for life

Preston Crown Court
Preston Crown Court

The bodies of Dr Saman Mir Sacharvi, 49, and Vian Mangrio, 14, were discovered at their fire-damaged home in Burnley, Lancashire, last October.

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A handyman who murdered a doctor and her 14-year-old daughter has been jailed for life and must serve a minimum of 34 years.

The bodies of Dr Saman Mir Sacharvi, 49, and Vian Mangrio, 14, who dreamed of becoming a barrister, were discovered at their fire-damaged home in Burnley, Lancashire, last October.

Shahbaz Khan, 52, told a jury at Preston Crown Court that both were alive and well when he left the address on September 30 last year.

But on the 13th day of his trial – just before the closing speeches were to be made – he changed his pleas to guilty to murder and also admitted a count of arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

Khan, a former computer network engineer in his native Pakistan, strangled psychiatrist Dr Sacharvi and attacked her teenage daughter – probably suffocating her – when she returned from school. Both victims were drugged with diazepam.

Vian’s severely burned body was found in the lounge of the semi-detached property in Colne Road, Reedley, on October 1 2020, and an attempt had also been made to set Dr Sacharvi’s body alight in the front bedroom upstairs.

Khan was arrested after CCTV footage from September 30 showed him visiting the home, where he had previously carried out work including a garage conversion.

Police later found jewellery worth tens of thousands of pounds belonging to Dr Sacharvi in the loft of Khan’s home in Ribble Avenue, Burnley.

Also recovered from his address was a purple Samsung phone that contained Google searches on the morning of September 30 for “obsessed” and “define obsessed”.

Khan’s wife, Rabia Shahbaz, was jailed for 30 months after a jury found her guilty of perverting the course of justice when she provided a false alibi for her husband.

Sentencing, Mr Justice Goss told Khan – who spent most of the hearing leaning forward in a rocking motion with his face to the floor – “These were pre-meditated, callous and merciless murders of a devoted mother and her loving, teenage daughter.

“They were planned and determined in their execution. You set about your preparations with care and I have no doubt you were motivated by financial gain.

“By your actions, Shahbaz Khan, a family has lost two loved members whose lives were taken in the most dreadful way.

“Nothing this court can do is able to undo what you have done and the appalling and tragic consequences of what happened.”

Both women trusted Khan like a member of their family and he knew they were alone in the house from December 2019 when Dr Sacharvi’s second husband returned to Pakistan, the court heard.

Dr Sacharvi’s family said she was a compassionate doctor who had moved to the UK from Pakistan in 2017 with a dream of giving Vian a better education and environment.

She had chosen a job with less pay so she could spend more time with her daughter who was her best friend, her family added.

In a victim personal statement, Vian’s father Shaukat Mangrio, said: “She was the star in my eyes and the warmth in my heart. My daughter was beautiful inside and out.

“She was an intelligent high-achiever who aspired to be a barrister one day. She talked about studying at Cambridge University. Sadly this day will never come.

“I am unable to express how her sudden death has deeply wounded and disturbed me mentally. I now have no purpose in life. I feel it is a chore even to breathe now.”

In his statement read to the court, Dr Sacharvi’s husband, Wahid Bux Shaikh, said: “I don’t know how any human being can do that to another, and then to put the family through the torture of a trial is awful.”

The trial heard Khan scrawled graffiti on a wall at the house purporting to have been written by Vian to show hostility towards her mother and to suggest she killed her before taking her own life.

Jurors also saw post-arrest footage which showed Khan “throw himself” across his police station cell and on to his bed, which he later claimed was the result of a supernatural spirit – known as a jinn in the Islamic faith – named Robert holding him by his throat and banging his head against the wall.

He went on to say that “Robert” and another jinn called Rita, lived at the home of Dr Sacharvi and spoke to her.

Since March, Khan has been treated at Ashworth Hospital in Merseyside and has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia but there was no evidence of any mental disorder prior to his behaviour in police custody.

Mr Justice Goss said he was satisfied any mental disorder the defendant suffers from did not lower significantly his degree of culpability.

Addressing Rabia Shahbaz, he said her lies were “deliberate and calculated” in attempting to protect her husband.

He noted her pre-sentence report which said she continued to deny her guilt and had an “unwavering loyalty” to Khan.