A senior detective told a court she believed a north-east mechanic found dead at his home had died after falling outside and suffering a “scalping” injury.
But Detective Inspector Kerry McCombie said that “with hindsight” she would have acted differently, keeping an open mind over whether his injuries had been caused by criminal activity.
Brian McKandie was found dead at his home in Badenscoth in March 2016, but it took a week for police to determine he had been attacked and his death was suspicious.
It was then a further six weeks before officers uncovered almost £200,000 stored in his rural property.
Steven Sidebottom is on trial at the High Court in Aberdeen accused of murdering and robbing the 67-year-old mechanic.
The 25-year-old, of Crannabog Farm in Rothienorman, denies the charge and has launched two special defences – one that he was elsewhere at the time, another stating that another man, from Bridge of Don, is responsible.
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Yesterday, the court heard from senior investigating officer Det Insp McCombie who was called out following the discovery of Mr McKandie’s body on Saturday March 12 2016.
She said: “My interpretation was he had suffered a scalping-type injury where the skin on the top of the skull has come off due to coming into contact with something.
“The assessment was he had managed to get back into the house and was standing in the hallway then had potentially collapsed in the bedroom.
“He may have lain there for some time because there was a considerable amount of blood.
“There was a handprint on the bed – that may be where he tried to get up.”
She added: “I was looking for signs of a disturbance or anything in the background checks that suggested some criminal act had taken place.
“There was a mobile phone, a laptop, a wallet with a substantial amount of cash and other valuables in the property.
“The decisions rest with me but there was a lot of experienced staff there and nobody raised concerns.”
Advocate depute Iain McSporran QC asked: “When you knew how things developed, do you think about the decisions and developments that day and are there any things you would do differently?”
She replied: “With hindsight and what I know now, I would have done things differently.”
The court also heard from firefighter Michael Bremner, who was asked to go to the scene to get access to the room where Mr McKandie’s body lay.
Mr McSporran asked him if he observed something else while there.
He replied: “I did.”
When asked what it was, he said it was “pieces of hair” and “scalp” on the pathway which he brought to the attention of officers.
He added he believed they were “evidence of some form” so he covered it up with a loose hub cap found in the garden in a bid to preserve it.
The trial, before Lord Uist, continues.