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Man murdered pensioner he knew kept cash in shoebox

Steven Sidebottom convicted at High Court in Aberdeen over 67-year-old's death in 2016.

McKandie was murdered by Sidebottom.
McKandie was murdered by Sidebottom. STV

A man has been found guilty of murdering and robbing a mechanic in Aberdeenshire.

Brian McKandie, 67, was found dead at his cottage in Badenscoth near Rothienorman on March 12, 2016.

His death was initially treated as an accident, but on Friday 25-year-old Steven Sidebottom was convicted of the pensioner's murder.

Sidebottom denied murder, but was found guilty by a majority of the jury at the High Court in Aberdeen after 11-and-a-half hours of deliberation. He now faces a life sentence.

After the verdict, Mr McKandie's family paid tribute to "a much-loved and respected member of the community".

An 18-day trial heard how Sidebottom grew increasingly desperate for money in the lead up to the murder. He had a VAT bill to pay and was worried about financing his girlfriend's birthday present.

Sidebottom had heard stories about Mr McKandie "keeping money in a shoebox" and visited the cottage to carry out the murder and robbery.

https://stv.tv/news/north/1435166-desperation-for-money-led-to-brutal-cottage-murder-of-pensioner/ | default

The pensioner's battered and blooded body was found on his living-room floor the following day. He had been struck on the head at least 15 times.

During the police investigation, more than £200,000 was found in tins and boxes in the cottage.

Judge Lord Uist deferred sentence for a social work background report and remanded Sidebottom in custody to appear at the High Court in Edinburgh on March 6 for sentence.

He said: "You have been convicted by the jury of the crimes of murder and robbery of Brian McKandie, a man who lived alone in his cottage in Badenscoth, Aberdeenshire.

"He was brutally murdered by being struck at least 15 times on the head an this was done in order to obtain money which you subsequently gave to other people and used yourself.

"The sentence for murder is fixed by law and is imprisonment for life."

Brian McKandie: Money was taken from his house.
Brian McKandie: Money was taken from his house.

Police admit 'challenging and complex' inquiry

Detective Superintendent Iain Smith said: "I welcome the conviction of Steven Sidebottom today for the cold and calculated murder of Brian McKandie.

"Brian was a quiet, unassuming man who had proved himself over the years to be an honest and reliable handyman and mechanic.

"He didn't advertise his services but still had customers visit him every day from across the north-east through word of mouth because they knew he would get the job done and do it well.

"Given the private person Brian was he didn't have a lot of close friends and didn't let anyone into his home.

Brian McKandie's cottage, where his body was found.
Brian McKandie's cottage, where his body was found. STV

"The fact he was murdered within his own house - the place he had lived since he was two-years-old - made this crime all the more callous.

"This was an extremely challenging and complex investigation for many reasons, not least the lack of CCTV opportunities where Brian lived and the vast number of customers and acquaintances he had.

"Thanks to the painstaking efforts of the officers involved though who noticed anomalies in Sidebottom's version of events, another side of him began to emerge as someone desperate for money to fund a lifestyle he couldn't afford but managed to squander thousands of pounds the days following Brian's murder."

McKandie family: 'We will never understand'

Brian McKandie's family released a statement following the verdict.

They said: "Brian was a much-loved and respected member of the community - a hard-working and quiet man who wouldn't have done anyone a bad turn.

"Every day we think about what happened to Brian in the home he lived his whole life, and every day we struggle to understand why this happened to him.

"The reality is we will never understand why Brian - a complete gentleman - died in such a brutal and senseless way, and it is something we will never come to terms with.

"As a family we are extremely pleased with and welcome today's outcome, however it doesn't bring Brian back.

"We would like to thank the public for your help and support throughout this investigation and to everyone involved in bringing this case to court."

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