A senior detective told a court the injuries suffered by a mechanic allegedly bludgeoned to death in his home were the worst he had ever seen.
Brian McKandie was allegedly brutally beaten to death at his cottage at Badenscoth in rural Aberdeenshire.
Steven Sidebottom is on trial and denies murdering and robbing the 67-year-old at his home near Rothienorman on March 11, 2016.
Detective Inspector Gary Winter of Police Scotland’s Major Investigation Team told the jury police had interviewed more than 1,800 people during door-to-door inquiries in the weeks following the death and scoured CCTV footage obtained from properties across a 152 square mile area.
The court heard Mr McKandie had left an estate of more than £800,000, comprising bank accounts, investments, his property and £200,000 of cash stuffed in boxes around his home.
Det Insp Winter said Sidebottom became a person of interest seven months after the incident when a discrepancy emerged about when he was at the property.
Jill Auchnie, who previously gave evidence, said that along with her son and daughter, she saw Sidebottom leaving the home the night before Mr McKandie was understood to have died.
However, in a statement to police in June that year, he said Sidebottom had told officers it had been on the Wednesday night because that was when he had his daughter with him.
Det Insp Winter said he was part of the “trace, investigate and eliminate” strategy whereby people of interest placed on a list included those who had visited Mr McKandie’s house around the time of his death.
Advocate depute Iain McSporran said: “Did Steven Sidebottom become part of the strategy?”
Det Insp Winter replied: “Yes.”
When asked when, he said: “October 24 2016.”
Mr McSporran then asked: “Do you recall how that came about?”
The officer explained that Sidebottom was a customer and his family were spoken to in June after it was established his father was also someone who did business with Mr McKandie.
Turning to the alleged attack on Mr McKandie, Mr McSporran asked the police officer: “I take it I would not be wrong that the level of violence was extreme?”
Det Insp Winter said: “I have never, ever seen injuries like that.”
Representing Sidebottom, defence counsel Ian Duguid asked whether the 25-year-old had co-operated with the police, however the police officer replied that he had not.
However, when Mr Duguid asked whether the accused had given officers permission to search his chalet the officer confirmed that he had.
Sidebottom, of Crannabog, denies the allegation against him and has launched special defences of alibi and incrimination.
The trial, before Lord Uist at the High Court in Aberdeen, continues.