Court hears couple called police after spotting blood on door and floor of Brian McKandie’s home

A couple who first alerted the police to the death of mechanic Brian McKandie raised the alarm after spotting blood through the window of his remote cottage when they took their car to him, a court has heard.

The 67-year-old was found dead in his home at Badenscoth, a few miles north of Rothienorman, on March 12, 2016.

Steven Sidebottom, 24, is on trial accused of murdering him by hitting him with a blunt weapon and robbing him on the day before.

He denies the charge.

Officers searching the area near Brian McKandie’s home.

Yesterday the High Court in Aberdeen heard from witnesses Kelly Dunbar and Mark Coutts, who were the first to notice something was “not right” at Mr McKandie’s address.

But the trial was also told officers who first thought the death could be accidental were told the large volumes of blood throughout the home might be explained by Mr McKandie being on blood-thinning medicine.

Ms Dunbar and Mr Coutts had arrived at the self-employed mechanic’s house at some point between 3pm and 4pm on March 12 with a car they were hoping Mr McKandie could have a look at before an MoT.

When the couple went to the garage where the pensioner could usually be found working, he was not there, and they received no answer at the front door of the house.

Brian McKandie, left, and officers at his home near Rothienorman.

They went to drive away believing he was out.

As they left the scene, Ms Dunbar told her partner she was concerned Mr McKandie’s curtains were still drawn so late in the afternoon and after about 20 minutes they returned to the home to make sure the 67-year-old was all right.

Ms Dunbar said: “We knocked on the front door and there was still no answer, we went to the back of the house and in to the garden, and there was still no sign of him.

“Something was not right, so I peeked through a window beside the front door. There was blood inside the house, on the inside of a door and on the floor.”

The couple called 999 immediately, and Pc Alasdair MacHardy was the first police officer on the scene.

He told the court he knocked down the front door with a single kick, and started to search for Mr McKandie.

He said he found blood all over the cottage, on floors, doors and walls, in the hallway and a bedroom.

Pc MacHardy said he came across a door which was slightly ajar, but he could not get through – because it was blocked by the body of Mr McKandie on the other side.

The police officer said: “I put on some gloves, and put my hand to his neck to check for vital signs.

“I could not find a pulse, and he was very pale.

“I shone a light in his eyes, and there was nothing to suggest he was alive.”

Pc MacHardy told the court that although there was a lot of blood, officers initially thought Mr McKandie was injured and died after an accident.

A second police witness, Pc Ross McDonald, said investigators at first believed the mechanic had “sustained an injury from a fall” and when the dead man’s bloody head was initially inspected for damage, only one injury on the back of his skull was noted.

Concerns about the volume of blood found around the cottage were seemingly addressed when ambulance staff explained the pensioner, who had recently battled prostate cancer, was taking an anti-coagulant medicine.

On previous days of the trial, the court heard Mr McKandie had kept around £190,000 in cash hidden in biscuit tins and shoeboxes throughout his home.

Defence counsel Ian Duguid QC asked Pc McDonald if there had been any sign of a disturbance, and he said no.

The court was also told that a mobile phone, a laptop, a bank card and a wallet containing more than £1,400 in cash was discovered in plain sight in the cottage.

The trial, before Lord Arthurson, continues.

Charges for the trial

Steven Sidebottom is accused of robbing Brian McKandie of money and murdering him after repeatedly striking him on the head and body with an unidentified blunt implement or implements.

The offence is alleged to have taken place on March 11, 2016, at Fairview Cottages, Badenscoth, Rothienorman.

Sidebottom denies the charge.