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‘Ancient spirit’ lived at home of murdered doctor and daughter, court hears

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A handyman told detectives that an ancient supernatural spirit named Robert lived at the home of a murdered psychiatrist and her 14-year-daughter, a court has heard.

Police discovered the bodies of Dr Saman Mir Sacharvi, 49, and 14-year-old Vian Mangrio at their fire-damaged semi-detached house in Burnley, Lancashire, on the morning of October 1 last year.

Shahbaz Khan, 51, was arrested after CCTV footage showed him the day before visiting the home where he previously carried out various repairs including a garage conversion.

When police searched his address they discovered in the loft a bag containing items of gold jewellery, worth tens of thousands of pounds, belonging to the clinician, known locally as Dr Saman.

Also recovered from the address was a phone which contained internet searches for “what is dna” and “can we get dna from burn bodys for investigations”, Preston Crown Court heard.

Psychiatrist Dr Saman Mir Sacharvi lived with an ancient spirit, Preston Crown Court has heard (Lancashire Police/PA)
Psychiatrist Dr Saman Mir Sacharvi lived with an ancient spirit, Preston Crown Court has heard (Lancashire Police/PA)

On Tuesday, jurors saw footage of Khan “throw himself” across his police station cell and on to his bed after he was told the room was being monitored by staff.

He later explained he had been visited by someone called Robert who held him by his throat and banged his head against the wall.

Prosecutor David McLachlan QC said: “He will tell you that Robert was, and is, a jinn. The jinn in Islamic faiths is probably best translated as a supernatural spirit and it was Shahbaz Khan, we suggest, trying to set up his defence to say he had been attacked in his cell by a supernatural spirit.

“The prosecution say nonsense, absolute nonsense.”

When interviewed by detectives the next day, he made jerking movements and told them his name was Robert Smith Wood, he was 620-years-old and he lived at the home address of Dr Saman, the court heard.

Khan said whenever he went to the house in Colne Road he saw Robert and Rita, another apparent jinn.

He said Dr Saman told him Robert had broken a mirror because he was angry an extension had been built in “his area” and that he kept moving the dining-room table.

Khan said both he and the doctor had a mental health condition and she would hit her daughter and pull her hair, forcing him to intervene to break them up.

In a further interview, the defendant said he had no idea how Dr Saman and her daughter had died.

He said that when he left the house Miss Mangrio was upstairs and Dr Saman was in the kitchen chatting to Rita and Robert.

Schoolgirl Vian Mangrio was allegedly murdered when she returned from school (Lancashire Police/PA)
Schoolgirl Vian Mangrio was allegedly murdered when she returned from school (Lancashire Police/PA)

The Crown say Khan killed Dr Saman and then her daughter when she returned from school. He is then alleged to have set fires including the severe burning of Miss Mangrio in the lounge, an attempt to set alight Dr Saman in the upstairs front bedroom and another blaze in the kitchen.

Post-mortem examinations revealed the doctor died from pressure to the neck and the schoolgirl died of asphyxia.

The jury has also heard Khan allegedly tried to shift blame for the deaths to the schoolgirl by writing on walls “Covid 19 house my mum is evil”, “Covid home” and “Help me”.

Days earlier Miss Mangrio had been self-isolating, along with her mother, as she awaited a coronavirus test result, which proved negative.

Mr McLachlan said: “There had been a crude attempt to deflect blame from himself onto Vian Mangrio. We submit she did not kill her mother and then did not go on to kill herself.

“Both deaths, we submit, and it is for you to determine, were down to the man in the dock – and they were not killed by supernatural spirits either.

“Was it real in his head that he threw himself across his cell to his bed or was it a feeble attempt to pretend there was something wrong with his mental state?

“He appears to blame the jinns. He to appears to blame Vian Mangrio. He tried his best to get away from the blame.”

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.

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