Murder accused offers friend £500 to drop him off so he could ‘do someone in,’ court hears

A man accused of murder told a friend he would pay him £500 to drop him off so he could “do someone in” in the weeks before the mechanic’s death, a court heard yesterday.

Steven Sidebottom is on trial at the High Court in Aberdeen accused of bludgeoning Brian McKandie to death at his rural cottage in Badenscoth in March 2016.

Yesterday jurors heard evidence from Graeme Gray, a friend of his who met him while out socialising in Inverurie.

Gray told the court that Sidebottom, 25, approached him and offered him £500 to do a driving job in February 2016.

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He said the pair conversed in person and via text about a plan for Mr Gray to pick Sidebottom up and drive him to a location “in the Rothienorman area” so the alleged killer could “do someone in”.

Mr Gray, 33, who runs a chip shop in Insch, Aberdeenshire, said Sidebottom then wanted him to drive to Huntly or Inverurie so he and the vehicle he was using “could be seen” in those areas.

He was to then drive back and pick up Sidebottom once he was finished “the job”.

When asked if any more details were given he said: “It was never described, he was going to get something from someone.”

Advocate depute Iain McSporran asked: “What car would you use?”

He replied: “My own car, he offered me his vehicle.”

Man accused of murdering north-east mechanic told police he had ‘no idea’ who was responsible

Gray went on to say that he opted not to give him the lift as £500 was “crazy money” to offer.

The jury was told that in a statement given to the police he said: “Steven told me someone in the Rothienorman area was due him money but he did not say how much.

“Steven said he was going to do this person in and get his money back.”

Mr Gray accepted he had been attempting to be truthful with the police.

Later on Mr McSporran asked him if he had ever connected the events of these messages sent with the death of Mr McKandie.

He said: “Not initally, at one point I did.”

The court heard he had questioned Sidebottom about whether the killing had anything to do with him but Sidebottom told him he would not harm Brian.

Mr Gray also said he had never been given details of who it was Sidebottom intended to “do in.”

Sidebottom, of Crannabog Farm, denies the charge of murder and robbery against him and has launched two special defences.

One claims he was elsewhere including at his home, the Vale Hotel in Fyvie, the Co-Op in Newmachar and at St Peters Hall in Aberdeen at the time. The other incriminates another man, from Bridge of Don.

The trial, before Lord Uist, continues.