HMA v Steven Sidebottom

At the High Court in Edinburgh today, 6 March 2019, Lord Uist sentenced Steven Sidebottom to life imprisonment with a punishment part of 21 years after the accused was found guilty of the murder of Brian McKandie.

On sentencing, Lord Uist made the following statement in court:

“You were convicted by the jury at Aberdeen High Court of the murder of Brian McKandie, an inoffensive and popular 67-year-old man, at his home in Badenscoth on 11 March 2016 and robbing him of a sum of money.

“You are now almost 26 years old. You have one previous conviction for dangerous driving which I shall ignore for present purposes. You come from a good background and have always been in training or work.

“There are four aggravating features of the crime of murder of which you were convicted.

“First, the degree of violence used was severe and extreme. The evidence indicated that Mr McKandie was first attacked outside his house and then dragged into it, where he was further attacked. He sustained at least 15 separate blows to the head with a blunt object.

“He suffered a depressed, comminuted fracture of the right side of the skull with a large, ragged laceration of the overlying scalp. He had further scalp lacerations on the back of the head behind the large irregular injury and also towards the back of the left side of the head, beneath some of which there was depressed fracturing of the skull. There was another fracture at the front of the skull.

“He also had bruising to the face, shoulders and arms, consistent with blows from a weapon. In association with these injuries he suffered serious damage to his brain. This was on any view a very brutal murder.

“Secondly, this murder was committed in the course of a planned robbery which you carried out in order to obtain money.

“This was clear from text messages which you sent to a friend of yours in which you told him you needed ‘two grand cash’ and offered him £500 to do the driving for you in carrying out ‘a job’, as well as a face-to-face conversation with him in which you told him that someone in the Rothienorman area was due you money and you were going to do this person in to get your money back. After the incident you were in possession of a large amount of cash.

“Thirdly, this murder was an attack on a man at his own home, where he was entitled to feel safe. The law has always regarded it as a serious aggravation of any form of assault that it was carried out at the home of the victim.

“Fourthly, you have continued to deny your guilt since your conviction and shown no remorse.

“As you have already been told, the sentence for murder is fixed by law. I must now impose that sentence upon you. I sentence you to imprisonment for life.

“I must also fix the punishment part of you sentence, being the period which you must spend in prison in full before you can apply to the Parole Board for Scotland for release on licence.

“Having regard to the aggravating features which I have mentioned, I consider that the appropriate punishment part in your case should be 22 years. I shall take into account the period of one year which you have already spent in custody on remand by reducing that period to 21 years.

“You should not assume that you will automatically be released at the end of that period. You will be released only when it is considered that it is no longer necessary for the protection of the public that you continue to be confined in prison.

“Your sentence will run from 1 February 2019.”