A handyman has admitted the murders of a doctor and her teenage daughter whose bodies were discovered in their fire-damaged home.

UPDATE: Wife of handyman who killed Reedley doctor and daughter guilty over false alibi

Shahbaz Khan, 51, had been on trial for the killings of Dr Saman Mir Sacharvi, 49, and Vian Mangrio, 14, in Reedley, but on Wednesday he changed his pleas to guilty.

Last week he told the jury at Preston Crown Court he believed another person entered the semi-detached house in Colne Road and took their lives after he left the address at about 10pm on September 30 last year.

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

On Wednesday afternoon, Khan, of Ribble Avenue, Burnley, was rearraigned and from the dock entered pleas of guilty to the murders of Dr Sacharvi and Miss Mangrio, and also admitted a third 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, and remains on trial.

Trial judge Mr Justice Goss told jurors: “That is the end of the case as far as Shahbaz Khan is concerned. You don’t need to consider his case any further.

“His wife remains on trial and you will have to return a verdict in her case.”

He said it is likely jurors will start their deliberations on Thursday after hearing closing speeches from the barristers and his summing up of the case.

The trial was adjourned until Thursday.

Detective Chief Insp Pauline Stables, of Lancashire Police’s Force Major Investigation Team, 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.

“Not only were they killed in their own home, where they should have been safe, but they were attacked by someone they knew and trusted. 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.

“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.

“Since then he has forced the grieving families of both victims to sit through three weeks of a trial throughout which he continued to deny responsibility before finally admitting his guilt.

"We cannot thank the families enough for the dignified way they have conducted themselves throughout the investigation and subsequent judicial process and we hope they are able to take some comfort from the fact that Mr Khan has admitted his guilt and Mrs Shahbaz has been convicted.

“We know these murders caused shockwaves in Reedley and we must also thank the community for their help and support, particularly those people who provided us with CCTV and other information that helped us piece together what happened. 

“I would also like to commend all the officers and staff at Lancashire Police whose dedication and professionalism in this hugely emotive case has led to getting justice for Saman and Vian.

“Finally, though nothing can bring back Saman and Vian, justice has now been served and we must thank the jury for the time they spent considering all the evidence, some of which was quite distressing.”

Opening the case against Shahbaz Khan, prosecutor David McLachlan QC, had said 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 was then said to have set fires at the property, including the severe burning of Miss Mangrio in the lounge, an attempt to set Dr Sacharvi alight in the upstairs front bedroom, and another blaze in the kitchen before their bodies were discovered on October 1.

Khan was arrested after CCTV footage on September 30 showed him visiting the home where he previously carried out various repairs including a garage conversion.

Police later found jewellery worth tens of thousands of pounds belonging to Dr Sacharvi in a loft at Khan’s home – which he claimed 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 30 for “obsessed” and “defined obsessed”.