Alexander Pacteau was acquitted of 2011 attempted rape

Karen Buckley’s killer had also been spared jail over scam involving forgery of £20 notes

Alexander Pacteau may have already begun to grow accustomed to the privations of prison life while on remand for the past five months at HMP Barlinnie in Glasgow but as he faces into more than two decades in jail, it surely marks a dramatic change in the life and lifestyle he has known to date.

The eldest of four children born to a French father and Scottish mother, Pacteau grew up in the Camstradden Road East area of the comfortable middle class suburb of Bearsden on the north side of Glasgow where the fine red sandstone Edwardian properties can often fetch a £1miliion stg.

He attended the fee paying Kelvinside Academy whose alumni include the late Sir Hugh Fraser, Chairman of Harrods, former CEO of BT and Conservative MP, Ian Livingston and Scottish rugby player, Richie Gray, but he left the school after Fifth Year.

Company collapsed

His parents ran a courier company, Priority Courier Services Ltd but the company collapsed in the recession and the couple's marriage broke up with Pacteau's mother, Noreen moving from Bearsden some 30kms to Drymen near Loch Lomond where Pacteau went to live with her.


However after Pacteau moved out of home to live on his own in Glasgow in his late teens, his life began to take a worrying turn which led to him appearing in court for two very differing types of offences – forgery and attempted rape.

In November 2011, Pacteau was involved in a serious car crash which left him in an induced coma for three to four weeks and he was unable to walk for six months and was on crutches for a year after also suffering a broken hip and ribs which resulted in him receiving disability living allowance.

However when the disability living allowance payments ran out, Pacteau took to counterfeiting money and when police raided his flat at Cloan Avenue in Drumchapel, they found “equipment consistent with the production of counterfeit money” as well as £6,000 stg in forged bank notes.

The equipment included a laptop, various ink cartridges, a printer and paper trimmer and the unsophisticated money making scam involved him scanning Royal Bank of Scotland £20 notes and then cutting out the print outs to pass them off as genuine currency.

Journey into criminality

At his trial at Glasgow Sheriff's Court in July 2014, defence counsel, Andy Phillips said that Pacteau's journey into criminality stemmed from his car crash and the fact that he was unable to run the furniture business which he had set up prior to his car crash.

“He felt ashamed that he had to sign on for benefits despite his injuries and circumstances he found himself in and he did not want to admit this to his family so he put on the pretence that he was running his own business again, successfully,” he told the court.

Pacteau was spared jail by Sheriff Sam Cathcart who handed a community payback order – the Scottish equivalent of our community service order – with 225 hours of unpaid work to complete within nine months or face going to jail.

However it was Pacteau's second brush with the law which perhaps provided some indication of a more worrying and sinister aspect to his character which is perhaps eerily prescient of his encounter with Karen Buckley which led to him murdering her within minutes of meeting her.

In the early hours of November 27th 2011 while walking home along the Woodlands Road area in Glasgow city centre from a 21st birthday party, a 24-year-old care worker was approached by a then 17-year-old Pacteau who suggested they share a taxi home,

The 6 ft 4 inch tall teenager suggested they take a short cut down Baliol Lane to a taxi rank but he suddenly turned and attacked the young woman and attempted to get her to perform a sex act on him only for his victim to scream for help and some passerbys heard her and came to her rescue.

Pacteau went on trial on a charge of attempted rape in February 2013 but the jury at the High Court in Paisley acquitted him by a majority verdict after Pacteau told the court that he was gay and that he did not, nor ever would, carry out a sex attack on a woman.

“If I had carried out a sexual assault I would have taken responsibility for my actions. I don’t cower away from that,” said Pacteau who claimed the woman had slapped in the face in an alcove in the lane before she managed to haul him to the ground from where he struggled to get up.

Belt buckle

Pacteau also told the trial that his belt buckle became undone as he fell during the altercation and that was why he was seen adjusting his trousers afterwards by people who had rushed to the scene after they heard the young woman screaming.

“I did not sexually assault this woman. I would never make an attempt to sexually assault this woman. I believe rape is the lowest of the low. I’d rather be charged with murder than attempted rape,“ he ominously told the court.

Less than four years later, Pacteau, described by friends as something of a fantasist, is now serving a sentence for murder of a young woman whom he met in equally chance circumstances but for whom on this occasion there was no escape.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times