• STV
  • MySTV

Desperation for money led to brutal cottage murder of pensioner

The background behind the murder of Brian McKandie and conviction of Steven Sidebottom.

Brian McKandie was found dead in his cottage.
Brian McKandie was found dead in his cottage.

Steven Sidebottom was described in court as obliging, always willing to help.

He's the father of a young daughter. He'd never been in trouble with the police before. But the 25-year-old part-time DJ wasn't earning much money.

He lived and worked on his father's farm near Rothienorman. The court was told he made around £200 a month, most of which went on child maintenance.

In the days before the murder he texted a friend saying he needed £2000 in cash. He was under pressure to help pay a VAT bill at a local hotel. His girlfriend's birthday was also approaching fast.

He knew local mechanic Brian McKandie. He'd been a frequent visitor to his house just a few miles away where the handyman carried out car and household repairs.

He'd heard the stories about the 67-year-old always having "money in his shoebox".

It later transpired there was over £200,000 in notes in the house in a variety of boxes and sweetie tins. Brian McKandie was a very wealthy man.

Steven Sidebottom: Court heard he needed money quickly.
Steven Sidebottom: Court heard he needed money quickly. STV

The court heard phone evidence put Steven Sidebottom in the area at the time of the killing.

His account of events just didn't add up. There was a significant gap of two hours when he was out of touch. And he arrived at his girlfriend's flat in Aberdeen late, with a wad of cash wrapped in elastic bands.

He later lavished her with birthday gifts and later, even a car.

He'd also been around to the Vale Hotel in Fyvie to pay the money he was due.

The following day Brian McKandie's battered body was found in the living room of his cottage. He'd been beaten around the head at least 15 times.

Police later said they'd never seen more violent injuries.

Initially they didn't think it was a murder. But a week later they announced major investigation.

Steven Sidebottom was worried. He knew his fingerprints would be at the scene. After all he was a frequent visitor to the house. He'd even been spotted there the night before. He phoned friends trying to cover his tracks.

https://stv.tv/news/north/1435162-man-guilty-of-murdering-mechanic-brian-mckandie-in-cottage/ | default

The trial was told there was no DNA to put him there and not one print.

But prosecutor Iain McSporran told the jury absence of evidence did not mean evidence of absence.

Defence agent Ian Duguid argued there was no proof there had ever been a robbery at all and said it was improbable a man with no previous convictions would kill a friend to pay a VAT bill.

But the court also heard Sidebottom had earlier threatened to break the legs of a man who owed him money.

Mr McSporran said all of the circumstantial evidence when considered together pointed to the man responsible.

The jurors believed him and Steven Sidebottom is facing a lengthy period behind bars.

Alastair Forsyth, a local councillor, describes Sidebottom as a Walter Mitty character who you could never know was telling you fact or fiction.

He says the village, population just 500, will take a long time to recover from the horror and the shock visited on it by the violent attack on a quiet pensioner with a fortune hidden in his cupboards.

It will be a long time, if ever, before Steven Sidebottom sees Rothienorman again.

Download: The STV News app is Scotland's favourite and is available for iPhone from the App store and for Android from Google Play. Download it today and continue to enjoy STV News wherever you are.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
ShowHide
Forgot password?
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This must be at least 6 characters long.
ShowHide
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long.
You must be over 16 to join STV.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
We need this to check that you live in an STV region.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid postcode
Would you like us to email you about our great shows and services from time to time?
We'll only send emails we think you'll like (see example) based on information you have supplied and shows you have watched on STV Player. For details on emails and advertising, see our STV & You page.
Would you like to receive emails from the Scottish Children's Lottery about draws, instant games and competitions?
We support the Scottish Children's Lottery (SCL), which is managed by our colleagues at STV ELM Ltd. You can find out more about the SCL on its website, including its Privacy Policy.

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, and understand our Privacy and Cookie Policies.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.

Oops!

Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.

Oops!

Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.

http://shows.stv.tv/real-heroes/voting

Oops!

Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.