NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

An ordinary man with £200,000 hidden in sweetie tins and shoeboxes

Tin filled with cash Image copyright Crown Office

To the local community, Brian McKandie was the friendly, obliging and reliable go-to man for car repairs.

He often joked that he would put cash payments from customers in a shoebox.

After his death, about £200,000 in cash was found in his house, mainly in sweet tins and shoeboxes.

Witness after witness at his murder trial said that the 67-year-old was well-liked, a gentleman, and very good at what he did.

Mr McKandie lived frugally at his cottage at Badenscoth, near Rothienorman in Aberdeenshire, where he worked in his garage with the radio always playing.

Image copyright Police Scotland
Image caption Brian McKandie's skills with cars earned him a solid customer base

Mr McKandie would be in his boiler suit, doing repairs daily, morning until night.

He had built a solid customer base over the years through word of mouth about the quality of his work.

Many witnesses said that after parting with their cash for his repairs, Mr McKandie would say it would be topping up his "shoebox".

They had no idea what he actually did with the money, but he certainly did not lead an extravagant lifestyle.

In March 2016, he was recovering from prostate cancer - but was keeping busy getting cars ready for their MoTs.

Image caption Mr McKandie worked in the garage next to his home

It was one of his customers, Kelly Dunbar, who first noticed that something was amiss.

She and her partner went to Mr McKandie's house as their car was due its MoT.

The garage was unlocked and his radio was on as usual - but there was no sign of him.

The living room curtains were also closed.

They went home but had a nagging feeling there was "something not right", so they went back.

There was no answer at the house door, and - after checking the garden too - Ms Dunbar looked through a window.

Image caption Steven Sidebottom had known Mr McKandie all his life

She saw blood on an inside door, the floor and the walls of the hall.

She dialled 999. The first police officer on the scene kicked in the door, and Mr McKandie's body was found.

The initial police theory was that there had been some kind of accident outside, and that he had made it back inside before succumbing to his injuries.

Mr McKandie's brother, who was on holiday in Australia, was told his death was not being treated as suspicious.

Murder inquiry

However, that changed several days later when the post-mortem examination revealed Mr McKandie had received at least 15 blows to the head from an unknown heavy object.

He may have been alive for several hours after suffering the injuries.

A murder inquiry was launched, which later involved an appeal on the BBC's Crimewatch and a £10,000 reward offer from Crimestoppers.

It was almost a year after his death before Steven Sidebottom - who lived in the area and had known Mr McKandie all his life - was charged, in February 2017.

He had earlier shared the police's social media appeals for information.

He was accused of murdering and robbing Mr McKandie - crimes of which he was ultimately found guilty.

Sentencing him to life and a minimum of 21 years in prison, judge Lord Uist described it as a "brutal" murder - and said Sidebottom had still shown no remorse.

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