Brutal murderer Steven Sidebottom shared Facebook appeals to catch Brian McKandie’s killer in an effort cover his tracks.
The 25-year-old killer was convicted yesterday following a three-week trial at the High Court in Aberdeen.
Detectives today welcomed the majority verdict – which came on the third day of jury deliberations.
Sidebottom was desperate for cash when he attacked popular handyman McKandie, striking him on the head 15 times.
He robbed the pensioner, who had £200,000 hidden in shoeboxes around his home near Rothienorman, and then visited various places around the area to try to build himself an alibi.
Following the verdict, Detective Superintendent Iain Smith read a statement outside the High Court.
He said: “I welcome the conviction of Steven Sidebottom for the cold and calculated murder of Brian McKandie.
“Brian was a quiet, unassuming man who had proved himself over the years to be an honest and reliable handyman and mechanic.
“He didn’t advertise his services but still had customers visit him every day from across the north-east through word of mouth because they knew he would get the job done and do it well.
“Given the private person Brian was, he didn’t have a lot of close friends and didn’t let anyone into his home. The fact he was murdered within his own house – the place he had lived since he was two years old – made this crime all the more callous.”
Sidebottom’s conviction came almost three years after Mr McKandie’s death and followed a mammoth police investigation.
Det Supt Smith said Sidebottom had “spun a web of lies” and gone to “extreme efforts” to avoid being brought to justice.
Sources told the Evening Express one of the ways Sidebottom tried to hide his involvement was by sharing appeals and newspaper reports about the murder on his personal Facebook page.
Det Supt Smith said: “This was an extremely challenging and complex investigation for many reasons, not least the lack of CCTV opportunities where Brian lived and the vast number of customers and acquaintances he had.
“Thanks to the painstaking efforts of the officers involved, though, who noticed anomalies in Sidebottom’s version of events, another side of him began to emerge as someone desperate for money to fund a lifestyle he couldn’t afford but managed to squander thousands of pounds the days following Brian’s murder.
“He also went to extreme efforts to cover his tracks and spun a web of lies to deceive the people around him.”
Det Supt Smith also described the impact the shocking crime, which captured the attention of the entire region, had on the local community.
He said: “This type of crime is extremely rare in Scotland, let alone a rural place like Rothienorman, and Brian’s death rightly shocked the local community.
“I can imagine his murder will be even harder to understand, given that the man responsible lived so close by and continued to live in the midst of those affected by it, knowing what he had done.
It is the painstaking attention to detail by all those involved in this investigation that leads us to this point.
“However, I must also thank the public who got in touch in response to the many appeals for information we issued and the customers and acquaintances of Brian who consented to providing their DNA.
“Your information and co-operation was invaluable.
“I would also like to thank all those who assisted in bringing and presenting the case to court.”
He added: “Brian’s family, and in particular his brother Bill, have shown great courage and dignity throughout the investigation and subsequent trial and I cannot thank them enough for their patience and support.
“This outcome will not bring Brian back. However, I hope this conviction can help them move forward.
“It has now been three years since Brian died.
“To date, Sidebottom has shown no remorse for his actions nor offered any explanation as to why an innocent man had to die.
“But he must now face the consequences of robbing another person of their life.”