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Karen Buckley murderer branded an “evil coward” by grieving parents

The man who bludgeoned Irish student Karen Buckley to death with a spanner and attempted to dispose of her body in a vat of chemicals has been jailed for a minimum of 23 years.

Alexander Pacteau, 21, was branded “truly evil” after admitting the crime at the High Court in Glasgow last month.

Judge Lady Rae today sentenced him to 23 years for the murder of the 24-year-old, who was on a night out with friends in April when she was preyed upon by Pacteau.

Pacteau targeted 24-year-old Miss Buckley when she was on a night-out with friends in the city’s west end in April.

A major search followed and her remains were eventually found in a barrel on farmland outside Glasgow.

Miss Buckley’s parents John and Marian travelled from Cork to see Pacteau plead guilty to murder on August 11.

The qualified nurse had only been in Glasgow for a few months before her killing.

She had recently left her job at an Essex hospital and moved to Scotland to study for a masters degree in occupational health therapy at Glasgow Caledonian University.

Miss Buckley was described as an outgoing woman whose life revolved around her family and friends.

Her father said: “It is every parent’s worst nightmare. All Karen was doing that night was making her way home when she was randomly targeted by and murdered by a cowardly, vicious criminal.

“He is truly evil and we hope he spends the rest of his life behind bars.”

Pacteau, who described himself as a “self-employed sales consultant”, has a previous conviction for printing counterfeit money.

It emerged after his conviction that he stood trial in 2013 at the High Court in Paisley accused of attempting to rape a woman in a Glasgow lane.

He was found not guilty of the charge.

In the early hours of April 12, he met Miss Buckley outside the Sanctuary nightclub and drove her to nearby Kelvin Way, where he grabbed her neck and delivered about a dozen blows with a spanner.

The killer visited various shops to purchase caustic soda before placing her body in the bath at his flat.

On trips to High Craigton Farm he burned a mattress and clothes before buying a barrel, placing Miss Buckley’s body inside and locking it in a storage unit he had rented.

Police at High Craigton Farm
Police at High Craigton Farm

Pacteau initially claimed to detectives, who identified him from CCTV footage, that they had consensual sex at his flat and she had fallen and injured herself on the bed frame.

His solicitor John Scullion QC said he could offer no “rational explanation“ for his actions.

Sentencing, Lady Rae said Pacteau had carried out a “brutal, motiveless attack on a defenceless young woman”.

 

Lady Rae continued: “I find it extremely difficult to find words appropriate to describe the dreadful crime to which you pleaded guilty.

“Karen Buckley was a young woman in the prime of life.

“To you she was a stranger who appeared tragically to have accepted a lift in your car.

“Within a matter of minutes, for some inexplicable reason, you destroyed her young life.”

Karen Buckley was murdered on April 12 by Alexander Pacteau
Karen Buckley was murdered on April 12 by Alexander Pacteau

The judge said Pacteau had gone to “extraordinary lengths” to conceal what he had done and told a “tissue of lies” to police investigating her disappearance.

Miss Buckley’s parents John and Marian travelled from Cork to see Pacteau plead guilty on August 11 and were in court again today.

Miss Buckley was described as an outgoing woman whose life revolved around her family and friends.

Pacteau, who described himself as a “self-employed sales consultant”, has a previous conviction for printing counterfeit money.

A statement issued on behalf of Miss Buckley’s family said: “Today’s life sentence will not bring our beautiful Karen back. Our little angel has been taken from us forever in the cruellest of ways. We mourn for her every day.

Handout picture from Scotland's Crown Office of Alexander Pacteau being questioned by detectives.
Handout picture from Scotland’s Crown Office of Alexander Pacteau being questioned by detectives.

“It will however ensure that women are safe from harm from the truly evil coward who took our beautiful Karen’s precious life. I hope that he is never released and spends every day in prison haunted by what he did.

“Marian and I would again like to thank the people of Scotland and Ireland, the Irish Garda and the Scottish police and prosecution service for all their help and support in bringing Karen’s killer to justice. We appreciate most especially those who keep us in their thoughts and prayers.

“We all want to move on and try to piece our lives back together. We have three wonderful sons and we need to be there for each other as a family. We would be grateful if we can now be left alone to grieve and our family’s privacy be respected.

“Karen is at peace now and we know that she is in heaven looking down on us and helping us.”

Police Scotland Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham, of the Major Crime and Public Protection unit, said: “Today’s sentencing marks the conclusion of an investigation by Police Scotland which began immediately after Karen was reported missing and which led to the discovery of her body at High Craigton Farm, near Milngavie.

“I would like at this time to again offer the condolences of Police Scotland to Karen’s family and friends.

“The full resources of Police Scotland were directed towards understanding what happened to Karen and tracing the person responsible for her murder.

“Experienced murder investigators, working closely with local policing teams, specialist search officers and forensic experts, built up an overwhelming evidential case which led ultimately to Pacteau admitting his actions.

“Such incidents are rare in our communities; where they do take place we will carry out professional, thorough and rigorous investigations to bring those responsible to justice.”

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