NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Brian McKandie murder probe 'could have been done differently'

Brian McKandie Image copyright Police Scotland
Image caption Brian McKandie's body was discovered at his home in 2016

A senior police officer who initially believed a man's death was an accident has told a murder trial she would have done things differently with hindsight.

Brian McKandie, 67, was found dead in his home near Rothienorman in Aberdeenshire in March 2016.

Steven Sidebottom, 25, denies murder and robbery.

Det Insp Kerry McCombie told the fourth day of the trial at the High Court in Aberdeen the early theory was Mr McKandie had fallen.

It was several days later before it became a criminal investigation.

Det Insp McCombie told advocate depute Iain McSporran, prosecuting, that she was alerted to the death on 12 March 2016 as the on-call senior investigator for the area.

She said officers at the scene were not sure how Mr McKandie died.

'More to it'

Det Insp McCombie travelled to the scene and liaised with other colleagues.

She said the volume of blood at the scene had given rise to concerns there may have been more to it than a fall.

From her initial assessment of the body, she said she thought there was one head injury.

She said items such as a mobile phone, laptop, and a wallet - which the court heard contained £1,490 - were found in the cottage.

Image caption Det Insp Kerry McCombie said she was in charge until the case was treated as a crime

Det Insp McCombie said of the initial assessment of an accident: "The decisions rest with me, but there was a lot of experienced staff there and nobody raised concerns."

Mr McSporran said: "You made an honest decision that day this was not a crime scene. Do you think you made the right decision?"

Det Insp McCombie replied: "With hindsight and what I know now I would have done things differently."

Money in house

Defence counsel Ian Duguid QC asked: "Did you remain the inspector in charge for a period of days?"

She replied: "Yes, until it was declared a homicide."

The court heard this was not until Thursday 17 March, several days after the body was discovered on Saturday 12 March.

Mr Duguid also said it was seven weeks until £190,000 was found in the house.

Mr Sidebottom's older brother Robert Sidebottom, 35, told the court his brother had helped on the family farm in Rothienorman as well as other work including helping him with DJ gigs.

Mr McSporran asked the witness if, in March 2016 his brother had £2,000 cash and was able to pay for a tablet computer and second hand car and give money to his girlfriend, would he have expected that?

The witness said he could have borrowed it or invoiced for a job.

Mr Sidebottom denies repeatedly striking Mr McKandie with an unidentified implement or implements.

He has lodged the special defence of incrimination and alibi.

The trial, before Lord Uist, continues.

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