The jury in the murder trial of a man accused of bludgeoning a north-east mechanic to death has today retired to consider its verdict.
Steven Sidebottom is accused of attacking Brian McKandie at his Badenscoth property in March 2016 and robbing him of money.
Prosecutors allege circumstantial evidence shows he came into money that could only have come from the home of Mr McKandie and as such he was responsible for the murder.
The court heard previously that £200,000 in cash was recovered from the 67-year-old’s home.
Sidebottom is said to have passed £2,000 to Roddy Blacklaws, proprietor of the Vale Hotel, to help him with a VAT bill.
Evidence has also been heard he presented a “wad of cash” containing £50 notes to his girlfriend Kudzaishe Chiriseri after Mr McKandie’s death and the jury heard he bought a £700 car.
Giving evidence, Mr Blacklaws said the money had been given to him two days before the death of Mr McKandie.
The court also heard Sidebottom was making just £200 a month from his job at his home on Crannabog Farm in Rothienorman and was paying £173 of this in child maintenance.
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In concluding the case for the prosecution, advocate depute Iain McSporran QC said while there was no direct or forensic evidence, the circumstantial evidence when considered as a whole would leave jurors in no doubt Sidebottom was responsible.
He said: “Mr McKandie had no known enemies and no motive for the violent assault that ended his life; no motive apart from robbery.”
He added that, as everyone knew Mr McKandie joked about putting money in a “shoe box”, it was a reasonable inference that Sidebottom could have expected to find money there and that he was the guilty man.
He added: “He had no way of having his hands on these sums of cash.”
He said Sidebottom’s claim to police he had left the Vale Hotel in Fyvie on the night and travelled to Aberdeen was contradicted by a trace on his phone that showed he had headed in the opposite direction. Mr McSporran said: “What was stopping him from just going to Aberdeen?”
He added there were “two hours of inactivity” between 7.50pm and 9.40pm giving time for him to have carried out the killing and changed clothes.
But, representing Sidebottom, defence counsel Ian Duguid QC said the jury had been invited to “speculate” by the prosecution.
He said it was improbable a man with no previous convictions would kill a friend for money to help someone with a VAT bill.
He added there was no evidence Mr McKandie had been robbed and that, if the jury agreed, then Sidebottom must be acquitted as the murder and robbery were “inextricably linked” by prosecutors.
Mr Duguid also stressed there was no direct evidence to place Sidebottom at the scene on the day.
Sidebottom, 25, denies the charge against him.