‘Accused was at scene of murder day before death’
Witness tells trial of sighting as police examiners say it took a week to realise McKandie was killed
THE man accused of murdering a north-east mechanic at his rural Aberdeenshire cottage was spotted at the property the day before he died, a court has heard.
Steven Sidebottom is on trial at the High Court in Aberdeen accused of battering Brian McKandie to death and robbing him in March of 2016.
And yesterday the jurors heard from a witness who visited Mr McKandie’s property the night before his body was discovered and saw the accused loitering outside.
Jill Auchnie, who was picking up a car from the mechanic, said she was there for over half an hour and found Sidebottom still outside as she left. She recalled telling her husband she thought his behaviour was “strange”.
The court also heard yesterday from police scene examiners who revealed it took them a week to realise Mr McKandie had been murdered and more than a month to discover thousands of pounds in cash had been stored throughout his home. Julie Goodeve said the initial “hypothesis” was that he had tripped and hurt his head before falling to his death.
The court heard that meant investigators neglected to take certain precautions, such as wearing protective suits, when first visiting what they only later discovered was a crime scene.
Sidebottom, 25, denies the charge against him.
The trial, before Lord Uist, continues.
A man accused of bludgeoning a north-east mechanic to death inside his home was seen outside the property the day before.
Brian McKandie was found dead in Fairview Cottages in Badenscoth in March of 2016.
Steven Sidebottom, 25, is on trial at the High Court in Aberdeen accused of murdering him and stealing money from him.
Yesterday, a friend of Mr McKandie said she and her children saw Sidebottom at the property the day before he died.
The court also heard police scene examiners did not realise there had been a murder for a week.
They initially believed Mr McKandie had died as a result of an accident and did not take precautions, such as wearing protective gear.
The court heard it also took investigators a month to discover there were stacks of notes totalling thousands of pounds in the home.
G i v i n g e v i d e n c e yesterday, Jill Auchnie told a jury that Mr McKandie had been undertaking some work on her car and that she had gone to collect it on the evening of Thursday March 10.
She said when she approached she saw a white van parked there and a man exiting the garage as she went in.
The 43-year-old said her son and daughter had joined her as she spoke to Mr McKandie for 15 to 20 minutes. When she came out the man was still there.
Advocate depute Iain McSporran QC asked her if she could see the man in court. She identified Sidebottom as the man she’d seen.
The witness claimed there had been a brief conversation involving him and her daughter while her son was still in the garage speaking to Mr McKandie, but could not recall any details.
When asked whether she thought anything of it, she said: “I remember saying to my husband how strange it was that the person was still there.”
Earlier in the day, the court heard from numerous scenes of crime examiners from the Scottish Police Authority.
The first of these, Julie Goodeve, was called to Fairview Cottages on Saturday March 12.
She said the death was not initially treated as suspicious and so protective gear was not in place.
She said “the general consensus was an accident has occurred” and the hypothesis was that Mr McKandie had hit his head then fallen to his death.
Later in the day, the court heard from John Dingwall who became involved at the scene when a post-mortem examination revealed what had caused the injuries.
He had already made multiple visits to what was now a crime scene when he was called to attend again.
Mr Dingwall said: “It was April 28, the crime scene manager and other police officers had been searching the scene and had found money in tins.”
The court was shown pictures taken at the scene of bundles of notes, wrapped up, which had been stored in tins and elsewhere.
Sidebottom, of Crannabog Farm in Rothienorman, denies the charge against him.
His defence team have launched two special defences; one that he was elsewhere at his home and at other locations when the crime took place and the second that another man, from Bridge of Don, was responsible.
The trial continues.
“The general consensus was an accident had occurred”
KILLED: Brian McKandie was initially thought to have died in an accident