Man jailed for life for Rothienorman murder

Published 06 March 2019

We acknowledge the sentencing of Steven Sidebottom today (Wednesday March 6, 2019) at the High Court in Edinburgh for the murder of Brian McKandie at his home at Rothienorman in March 2016.  He will serve a minimum of 21 years in jail for the murder and robbery.

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 within the pensioner's own home 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, aswell 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."


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 the age of two. He had attended Badenscoth School as a child, just yards from his home, and was an extremely private individual with a limited circle of friends. He had no children and never married.

Although a private man, Mr McKandie was well-known in the North East 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.

The initial circumstances surrounding the death were assessed by officers who attended the locus as potentially not criminal, and an unexplained death enquiry was launched. The property was secured and preserved pending a post mortem examination to establish the cause of death.

Following the post mortem and once next of kin had been informed, a murder enquiry was subsequently launched, led by Police Scotland's Major Investigation Team. At the time it was the only unsolved murder since the establishment of the single force. 

The investigation into Mr McKandie's murder - 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.

The resource-intensive investigation became one of the largest in Police Scotland's history, with specialist officers from every division's Major Investigation Team in Scotland working on the enquiry at different times. Countless experts in their respective fields assisted including behavioural and geographical specialists, forensic experts, interview advisors and criminal psychologists. There was also a significant resource commitment and support from local officers within North East Division. 

The forensic examination undertaken by scientists from the Scottish Police Authority was also one of the most intensive, with approximately six months spent within the scene of the crime alone using every forensic technique available.

In total -

• More than 4,800 people were spoken to during the investigation

• Around 2,500 statements were noted 

• House-to-house enquiries covered a three mile radius surrounding Mr McKandie's property

• Almost 700 people who were either acquaintances or customers of Mr McKandie consented to providing their DNA

• 753 questionnaires were completed during roadside enquiries on the B9001 a fortnight after Mr McKandie's death 

24 appeals were issued to the media and public as the investigation progressed with a press conference held with Mr McKandie's brother, Bill. The case also featured on BBC1's Crimewatch Roadshow on June 15, 2016, and the primetime show on September 26 that year.  

During the enquiry one strand of the investigation was to eliminate people that may have been at Mr McKandie's address in the days leading up to his death or to eliminate people by considering the circumstances by which they knew him. Throughout the investigation the enquiry team believed it likely that the suspect would have been someone that Mr McKandie knew. 

A press release was issued on February 23, 2017, confirming that a 23-year-old local man had been charged in connection with Mr McKandie's death.


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