Life sentence for killer of Rothienorman pensioner

Killer Steven Sidebottom will serve a minimum of 21 years in prison.
Killer Steven Sidebottom will serve a minimum of 21 years in prison.

A Scottish man has been jailed for at least 21 years for the brutal murder of a North-east handyman in his own home.

Brian McKandie, 67, was found dead at his cottage in Rothienorman on March 12, 2016.

Steven Sidebottom was convicted by a jury at the High Court in Aberdeen last month of murdering and robbing the Mr McKandie.

The 25-year-old was jailed for life when he appeared for sentencing at the High Court in Edinburgh on Wednesday.

Judge Lord Uist ordered him to spend a minimum of 21 years behind bars before he can be considered for parole.

Mr McKandie had died the night before in a savage attack that started outside his house and continued in the front hall.

He was discovered when customers called at his home the next day.

Police initially treated his death as an accident but a post-mortem examination later found he had suffered at least 15 blows to the head.

Seven weeks into the investigation a massive haul of cash - totalling more than £200,000 was discovered in the house. Mr McKandie’s estate was later valued at over £800,000 - wealth beyond anything imagined by his friends or relatives.

Sidebottom is thought to have escaped with several thousand pounds

Although a private man, Mr McKandie was well-known in the area as a reliable handyman and mechanic. Customers travelled from throughout the region and he had established a steady business over the years through word-of-mouth.

Police Scotland have welcomed the sentence for what they described as a “cruel and calculated” murder.

The initial circumstances were assessed as potentially not criminal, and an unexplained death enquiry was launched.

Following a post mortem examination, however, a murder enquiry was launched, led by the force’s Major Investigation Team.

The investigation - which ran for almost a year - was extremely challenging, not least because of the lack of CCTV opportunities owing to the rural location Brian lived and the vast number of customers he had and where they travelled from.

Detective Superintendent Iain Smith said: “Sidebottom is a cruel and calculated murderer who has yet to show any remorse for his actions.

“He killed Brian in the most brutal of ways and a painstaking and thorough investigation was launched by Police Scotland’s Major Investigation Team to bring this complex circumstantial case to court.

“The most important thing is that Brian’s family now has the justice they deserve, as well as his friends who sat through every day of evidence in court and the vast amount of acquaintances he amassed during the decades spent working as a handyman in Rothienorman.”

“I would once again like to thank Brian’s family and in particular his brother Bill for their patience during the investigation and subsequent trial - they have all shown incredible dignity throughout.”