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Mechanic found dead at home had been scalped, jury told

Jurors at murder trial hear details of injury suffered by Brian McKandie.

Brian McKandie: Trial heard evidence from police.
Brian McKandie: Trial heard evidence from police. Police Scotland

A mechanic found dead at his rural home had been scalped, a court has heard.

Brian McKandie's body was discovered at his home in Badenscoth, near Rothienorman, Aberdeenshire in March 2016.

Prosecutors allege Steven Sidebottom bludgeoned the 67-year-old to death at the cottage - which was later found to have more than £190,000 in cash hidden in tins and boxes throughout it.

The court heard on Monday that it took seven weeks before the cash was discovered and catalogued by a police photographer. Jurors further heard how a piece of skin and hair had been found by a retained firefighter on the path outside the cottage.

On Monday, detective inspector Kerry McCombie told the trial at the High Court in Aberdeen that she had become the senior investigating officer on the scene in the late afternoon of March 12 2016, a matter of hours after Mr McKandie's body was discovered.

The trial heard uniformed officers on the scene had made an initial assessment of the scene and believed Mr McKandie had died accidentally.

Ms McCombie told the court that the "working theory" was that he had fallen outside his home and suffered a "scalping" injury to the top of his head.

Officers believed he had then gone into his home, spreading blood throughout, before dying behind the door of his living room.

Jurors were shown photographs of pieces of skin and hair that had been ripped from Mr McKandie's head when he sustained the injury, found inside and outside the property, as well as the extensive blood staining throughout.

Ms McCombie said: "My interpretation was that he had suffered a scalping type injury where the skin on the top of the skull has come off due to coming in to contact with something.

"The assessment was he had managed to get back in to the house and was standing in the hallway then has potentially collapsed in the bedroom."

She added: "I was looking for signs of a disturbance or anything in the background checks that suggested some criminal act had taken place.

"There was a mobile phone, a laptop, a wallet with a substantial amount of cash and other valuables in the property.

"The decisions rest with me, but there was a lot of experienced staff there and nobody raised concerns."

Advocate depute Iain McSporran QC asked: "You made an honest decision that day this was not a crime scene. Do you think you made the right decision?"

Ms McCombie replied: "With hindsight and what I know now I would have done things differently."

Sidebottom, 25, of Rothienorman, Aberdeenshire, denies a single charge of murder. He has lodged special defences of alibi and incrimination.

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