Court hears that pensioner had £200k in home

Brian McKandie
Brian McKandie

A murder accused's mobile phone may have been at the home of a man found bludgeoned to death on the night he is said to have been killed, a trial heard yesterday.

A digital forensics expert said Steven Sidebottom's mobile phone connected to a cell mast that served the location of Brian McKandie's property in rural Aberdeenshire on the evening prosecutors say he was murdered.

But Daren Greener, a forensic cell site analyst, told the trial that the same mast that covers Mr McKandie's property also serves the farm where Sidebottom lived at the time of the alleged killing.

Sidebottom denies murdering and robbing the 67-year-old mechanic at his home in Badenscoth, near Rothienorman, on March 11 2016.

Mr Greener, 51, was asked by Police Scotland to analyse data from Sidebottom's mobile phone, focusing on the night of the murder.

The expert's report detailed a series of calls and texts sent and received from Sidebottom's phone from 4pm onwards.

Mr Greener said a series of texts were all made via a mast that served both Mr McKandie's address and Crannabog Farm, where Sidebottom lived.

A later series of calls, he said, supported a theory that Sidebottom's phone travelled from the Fyvie area to Aberdeen city centre close to Sidebottom's girlfriend's address later that night.

Yesterday the High Court in Aberdeen heard a total of £201,170 was found stuffed in biscuit tins and sweetie boxes hidden around Mr McKandie's home.

Sgt Stuart Fisher said he had been put in charge of managing the crime scene at Brian McKandie's rural cottage in Aberdeenshire the week after his death in March 2016.

Sgt Fisher told the court that he and other officers and forensic examiners had begun to clear out a bedroom off the living room where Mr McKandie was found dead on April 28, around seven weeks after the murder.

On a dresser in that bedroom a biscuit tin was found - and when opened found to be stuffed with £7,000 in cash.

That discovered prompted officers to call in a photographer to document the recovery - but they didn't yet know the scale of the cash they would find hidden in the bedroom.

Sgt Fisher said: "It was a shock to find the tin. As soon as we found the first one I called in a photographer."

A Toblerone tin was then found and opened - and found to have £19,000 in notes neatly bundled and wedged inside. They then found a Quality Street tin with £24,380 stuffed in it and another identical container with £24,010 inside.

Other huge sums of cash were found in another biscuit tin, a shortbread box, plastic bags and a wallet in the bedroom. Later officers found £8,000 in a brown tub in the kitchen before finding yet more cash stuffed inside a locked wardrobe.

Sidebottom, 25, of Rothienorman denies a single charge of murder.

It is alleged that on March 11 2016 at Fairview Cottages, Badenscoth, Rothienorman, he murdered Brian McKandie and robbed him of a sum of money.

Sidebottom denies repeatedly striking Mr McKandie with an unidentified implement or implements. He has lodged special defences of alibi and incrimination.

The trial, before judge Lord Uist and a jury of five men and ten women, continues.