A man who carried out the brutal murders of a mother and daughter in Reedley has today been sentenced to life in prison.
Shahbaz Khan (pictured above right), 52, of Ribble Avenue, Burnley, pleaded guilty at Preston Crown Court in June this year to murdering Dr Saman Mir Sacharvi, 49, and her 14-year-old daughter Vian Mangrio, at their home in Colne Road on September 30th 2020.
Khan had initially denied his guilt but partway through the trial pleaded guilty to two counts of murder and one count of arson being reckless as to whether life is endangered, having set both bodies alight after murdering them.
His wife, Rabia Shahbaz (pictured below right), 45, also of Ribble Avenue, Burnley, had stood trial at the same time as her husband and was found guilty in July of committing an act with intent to pervert the course of justice, having given false alibis for her husband for the day of the murders.
Today (Tuesday, October 5th) Khan appeared again at Preston Crown Court, where he was handed a whole life sentence with a minimum term of 34 years.
Rabia Shahbaz was sentenced to 30 months in prison.
Det Ch Insp Pauline Stables, of the Force Major Investigation Team, said: “A mother and daughter lost their lives in a brutal, shocking attack, and I cannot imagine what they went through that day.
“The women were killed in their own home, by someone they knew and trusted.
“As a result of his actions, Khan not only took two lives but caused unimaginable heartache and distress to all those who knew Saman and Vian and it is clear they are missed terribly every single day.
“When the police investigation was launched Mr Khan began to weave a web of lies, aided by Mrs Shahbaz, who gave him false alibis for the day of the killings. When he finally admitted he had been at the address that day he still refused to admit his guilt.
“He then forced the grieving families of both victims to sit through three weeks of a trial before finally admitting his guilt.
"We cannot thank the families enough for the dignified way they have conducted themselves throughout the investigation and subsequent court proceedings, and we hope they are able to take some comfort from the fact that that both Khan and Shahbaz are now behind bars.”
The bodies of Saman and Vian were found on the morning of October 1st 2020, after police were called to their home address over concerns for their welfare.
Vian’s body was found badly burnt in a downstairs room, while Saman’s body was found upstairs. Attempts had also been made to burn her body, but the fire had failed to take hold.
A post-mortem examination concluded Saman died from pressure to the neck, the home office pathologist concluding that it is likely that she had been strangled with a ligature. Vian’s body was so badly fire-damaged that the pathologist could only say she died of asphyxiation ‘on the balance of probabilities’ based on bruising to the inside of her throat and the fact that she had a woollen item wrapped around her neck and in her mouth.
Both women had Diazepam – sometimes known under the brand name Valium - in their systems, suggesting they had been drugged prior to being killed.
Following the discovery of the bodies a major investigation was launched and officers pieced together CCTV, telephone records, witness and other evidence to establish Mr Khan had carried out the killings.
This evidence included CCTV footage which showed a figure approaching the house at around 11.50am on the day of the murders, and not leaving until around 10pm.
Shahbaz initially told police her husband had been at home all day, however this was proven to be a lie. She then told police Khan had been at work at Tesco on the day of the murders, however this was also proven false.
Khan later admitted he was the figure seen entering and leaving the address on September 30th, but until the end of the trial denied murdering the mother and daughter, saying they were still alive when he left the house.
The prosecution argued that he had, in fact, drugged Saman by mixing Diazepam, Rose wine, fruit and a spice into a smoothie. Once she was drugged, and unable to fight back, he had killed her.
Vian had returned home from school at around 3.25pm that day, at which point she was also drugged and killed.
Prior to leaving the address it is believed Khan made attempts to cover his tracks by setting both bodies and a kettle in the kitchen alight to suggest the deaths had been caused by an electrical fire.
He had also scrawled graffiti on the walls which said ‘my mum is evil’ and ‘this is a Covid house’, which the prosecution said was done in case the fires didn’t take hold to suggest a falling-out between the two victims which had resulted in Saman taking her own and her daughter’s life.
A quantity of jewellery belonging to Saman, worth an estimated £27,000, was later found in Khan and Shahbaz’s loft by police.
Det Ch Insp Stables added: “I am satisfied with the sentences handed down today.
“Khan will be behind bars for a very long time, while Rabia Shahbaz also faces a significant stretch in jail to consider the consequences of her actions.
“Khan tore countless lives apart and I hope the sentences given to both him and Shahbaz today offer some closure to the victims’ family and friends, as well as the wider community of Reedley.
“I would also like to thank the many people who worked tirelessly to get justice for Vian and Saman.”
The images below are:
1. The writing Khan did on the wall of the victims' house, to suggest a falling out between the victims
2. The jewellery found in Khan and Shahbaz's loft during the investigation
3. The burnt kettle
4. Khan arriving at the address on the day of the murders
5. Rabia Shahbaz
6. Saman and Vian
7. Shahbaz Khan
8. The wine used in the 'smoothie' which Khan drugged the victims with