Wife convicted of providing fake alibi to protect double killer husband

·4-min read

The wife of a handyman who murdered a doctor and her teenage daughter has been convicted of giving him a false alibi.

Rabia Shahbaz, 45, was found guilty on Thursday of a single count of doing an act intended to pervert the course of public justice.

The jury’s verdict came a day after her husband, Shahbaz Khan, 51, changed his pleas after all the evidence had been heard in the case and admitted the murders of Dr Saman Mir Sacharvi, 49, and Vian Mangrio, 14.

The prosecution had said Shahbaz had deliberately lied to protect her husband when she provided a witness statement to police the day after her husband was arrested on suspicion of the murders.

She had stated that Khan was at their family home all day on September 30 last year – when Khan carried out the murders in Burnley, Lancashire.

Shahbaz Khan court case
Handyman Shahbaz Khan admitted murdering Dr Saman Mir Sacharvi and her daughter, Vian Mangrio, 14 (PA)

Shahbaz later claimed she was confused about dates because of stress and upset, combined with a lack of sleep and food, and told the court she thought her husband was working at Tesco that day.

Jurors at Preston Crown Court took less than two hours to dismiss her account.

The bodies of psychiatrist Dr Saman and her daughter were discovered at their fire-damaged semi-detached house in Colne Road, Reedley, on October 1.

Miss Mangrio’s badly burned body was found in the lounge, while an attempt had made to set alight to Dr Saman in the upstairs front bedroom.

The doctor died as a result of pressure to the neck while there was clear, but not definitive, evidence that Miss Mangrio died from asphyxia before her body was set on fire.

Last week, when giving evidence, Khan – who had carried out various odd jobs at the house – said he believed another person took their lives after he left the address at about 10pm on September 30.

After his arrest, the father-of-four claimed that supernatural spirits, known in the Islamic faith as jinns, had been responsible for the deaths.

A consultant forensic psychiatrist, called by his defence team, said she believed Khan – who was admitted to Ashworth high-security hospital in Merseyside in March – has a psychotic illness and “most likely” has schizophrenia.

However, jurors were told that a partial defence to murder of diminished responsibility was not available to Khan as there was no evidence he had been suffering any mental health problems at the time of the killings.

Before he changed his pleas – and formal guilty verdicts were returned – the defendant applied for the jury to be discharged so that his mental state could be reassessed but trial judge Mr Justice Goss rejected the application.

The judge said: “I have, of course, been watching the defendant very carefully throughout this trial. I have seen the way his demeanour has changed.

“I watched him as his wife gave evidence and the rocking motions ceased entirely as he paid very close attention. For that reason I have no doubt he knows precisely what is going on throughout this trial.”

He has asked for a further medical report on Khan, of Ribble Avenue, Burnley, to be completed ahead of a sentencing date to be fixed.

His wife, also of Ribble Avenue, was bailed ahead of her sentencing date, also to be fixed, as a pre-sentence report was ordered.

Mr Justice Goss told her: “It is a serious offence and it is inevitable that you are going to receive a prison sentence. However, I am going to grant you bail for you to deal with domestic matters.”

Detective Chief Inspector Pauline Stables, of Lancashire Police, said: “A mother and daughter lost their lives in what can only be described as a brutal and shocking attack, and it is impossible to comprehend what they must have gone through that day.

“From the very start of the investigation, it was clear that Saman and Vian were exceptional women: both popular, friendly, hard-working and kind. The loss felt by their family and friends is immeasurable.

“Though Mr Khan’s motive remains unclear, we believe it could have been greed or jealousy, especially as we found a quantity of jewellery belonging to Saman at his address following the murders.”