Man goes on trial accused of murdering north-east mechanic in his rural home

The brother of a mechanic found dead in his own home was in Australia when police broke the news to him.

Brian McKandie was battered and left for dead in his rural home in March 2016 – just a year after being given the all-clear from cancer.

Yesterday, Steven Sidebottom went on trial accused of murdering the 67-year-old.

Sidebottom, 25, denies the charge and has lodged two special defences of alibi and incrimination.

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As the trial got under way at the High Court in Aberdeen, Mr McKandie’s brother William told the jury he had been visiting his daughters in Australia when police broke the news to him that the handyman had died.

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He was initially told there were no suspicious circumstances, but when he arrived home he was met at Aberdeen International Airport by police.

The 78-year-old told the court: “I was met at Dyce Airport, I was informed by police it was becoming a murder inquiry.”

Advocate depute Iain McSporran QC asked him if that had been a “bolt from the blue”, to which he replied: “I was suspicious, something wasn’t 100% right.”

Last known CCTV image of Brian McKandie

Mr McKandie told the court that his brother had begun his career in electronics, but after his employer went into liquidation he began fixing cars and other items such as televisions and washing machines from his home at Fairview Cottages, Rothienorman.

He said his sibling got work through word-of-mouth, and did not need to advertise.

Mr McKandie said he had asked his brother to work on his own car in the past – and that he was even trying to sell a motor for him while he was in Australia.

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He recalled to the jury that the pair joked about the cash from various jobs being kept in a “shoebox” but admitted he had no idea what his younger sibling actually did with it.

Mr McSporran told the court there had been a “significant sum of cash” recovered at the late Mr McKandie’s home, which his brother said he had been surprised about.

Sidebottom, of Crannabog Farm, Rothienorman, denies murdering Mr McKandie by beating him and robbing him.

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His defence team have launched two special defences – one of alibi stating he was elsewhere including at his home, the Vale Hotel in Fyvie, a Co-operative store and at a property in St Peters Street in Aberdeen while the crime took place on March 11.

The second states that another man, from Bridge of Don, was responsible.

The trial, before Lord Uist, continues.