A senior detective yesterday told a court the injuries suffered by a mechanic allegedly bludgeoned to death in his home were the worst he had ever seen.
Brian McKandie is claimed to have been brutally beaten to death at his cottage at Badenscoth in rural Aberdeenshire.
Steven Sidebottom is on trial and denies murdering and robbing the 67-year-old at his home near Rothienorman on March 11, 2016.
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Detective Inspector Gary Winter, of Police Scotland’s Major Investigation Team, told the jury police had interviewed over 1800 people during door-to-door inquiries in the weeks following the death and scoured CCTV footage obtained from properties across a 152 square mile area.
The court heard Mr McKandie had left an estate of over £800,000 comprising of bank accounts, investments, his property and £200,000 of cash stuffed in boxes around his home.
The police officer said Sidebottom became a person of interest seven months after the incident when a discrepancy emerged about when he was at the property.
Jill Auchnie, who previously gave evidence, said that along with her son and daughter she saw Sidebottom leaving the home the night before Mr McKandie was understood to have died.
However, in a statement to police in June that year, he said Sidebottom had told officers it had been on the Wednesday night because that was when he had his daughter with him.
DI Winter said he was part of the “trace, investigate and eliminate” strategy whereby people of interest were placed on a list included those who had visited Mr McKandie’s house around the time of his death.
Advocate depute Iain McSporran QC said: “Did Steven Sidebottom become part of the strategy?”
He replied: “Yes.”
When asked when he said: “October 24, 2016.”
Mr McSporran then asked: “Do you recall how that came about?”
He explained that Sidebottom was a customer and his family were spoken to in June after it was established his father was also someone who did business with Mr McKandie.
Turning to the alleged attack on Mr McKandie, advocate depute Iain McSporran QC asked the police officer: “I take it I would not be wrong that the level of violence was extreme?”
DI Winter said: “I have never ever seen injuries like that.”
Representing Sidebottom, defence counsel Ian Duguid QC asked whether the 25-year-old had co-operated with the police but the police officer replied that he had not.
But when Mr Duguid asked whether he had given officers permission to search his chalet he confirmed that he had.
Sidebottom, of Crannabog, denies the allegation against him and has launched special defences of alibi and incrimination.
The trial, before Lord Uist, continues.