Man convicted of murdering Rothienorman pensioner

Steven Sidebottom
Steven Sidebottom

A man has been convicted of the murder of Rothienorman pensioner Brian McKandie.

A jury at the High Court in Aberdeen found Steven Sidebottom guilty and returned their verdict today (Friday, February 1).

Brian McKandie

Brian McKandie

The body of Brian McKandie was discovered at his home in Rothienorman on Saturday March 12, 2016.

Mr McKandie was 67-years-old and had lived at Fairview Cottages in Badenscoth since he was two-years-old.

Although a private man, Mr McKandie was well-known in the North East as a reliable handyman and mechanic.

Sidebottom had denied a single charge of murder and robbery.

Brian McKandie with his great nieces

Brian McKandie with his great nieces

Speaking after the verdict, Detective Superintendent Iain Smith said: "I welcome the conviction of Steven Sidebottom today for the cold and calculated murder of Brian McKandie.

"Brian was a quiet, unassuming man who had proved himself over the years to be an honest and reliable handyman and mechanic. He didn't advertise his services but still had customers visit him every day from across the North East through word of mouth because they knew he would get the job done and do it well.

"Given the private person Brian was he didn't have a lot of close friends and didn't let anyone into his home. The fact he was murdered within his own house - the place he had lived since he was two-years-old - made this crime all the more callous.

"This was an extremely challenging and complex investigation for many reasons, not least the lack of CCTV opportunities where Brian lived and the vast number of customers and acquaintances he had. Thanks to the painstaking efforts of the officers involved though who noticed anomalies in Sidebottom's version of events, another side of him began to emerge as someone desperate for money to fund a lifestyle he couldn't afford but managed to squander thousands of pounds the days following Brian's murder.

"He also went to extreme efforts to cover his tracks and spun a web of lies to deceive the people around him. This type of crime is extremely rare in Scotland let alone a rural place like Rothienorman, and Brian's death rightly shocked the local community. I can imagine his murder will be even harder to understand given that the man responsible lived so close by and continued to live in the midst of those affected by it knowing what he had done.

"It is the painstaking attention to detail by all those involved in this investigation that leads us to this point today however I must also thank the public who got in touch in response to the many appeals for information we issued and the customers and acquaintances of Brian who consented to providing their DNA. Your information and co-operation was invaluable. I would also like to thank all those who assisted in bringing and presenting the case to court."

He added: "Brian's family, and in particular his brother Bill, have shown great courage and dignity throughout the investigation and subsequent trial and I cannot thank them enough for their patience and support. Today's outcome will not bring Brian back however I hope this conviction can help them move forward.

"It has now been three years since Brian died. To date Sidebottom has shown no remorse for his actions nor offered any explanation as to why an innocent man had to die, but starting today he must now face the consequences of robbing another person of their life."

In a statement Mr McKandie's family said: "Whatever the outcome at court today, the fact remains that Brian is no longer with us. He was a much-loved and respected member of the community - a hard-working and quiet man who wouldn't have done anyone a bad turn.

"Every day we think about what happened to Brian in the home he lived his whole life, and every day we struggle to understand why this happened to him.

"The reality is we will never understand why Brian - a complete gentleman - died in such a brutal and senseless way, and it is something we will never come to terms with.

"As a family we are extremely pleased with and welcome today's outcome, however it doesn't bring Brian back. We would like to thank the public for your help and support throughout this investigation and to everyone involved in bringing this case to court."