Background: Pacteau killed ‘for some unknown and inexplicable reason’

Killer’s encounter with Karen Buckley was entirely random

Alexander Pacteau's encounter with Karen Buckley was entirely random as pointed out by sentencing judge, Lady Rae when she imposed a life sentence with a stipulation that he serve at least 23 years before he is considered eligible for parole.

Ms Buckley (24) was, as Lady Rae observed “a complete stranger (to Pacteau) who appears, tragically, to have accepted a lift in your car. In a matter of minutes, for some unknown and inexplicable reason, you destroyed her young life and devastated a family”.

The random nature of how Pacteau met the Co Cork nurse and student was recounted by the Lord Advocate, Frank Mulholland QC last month.

He told the court police believed Pacteau met Ms Buckley by chance as she was leaving the Sanctuary nightclub on Dumbarton Road in Glasgow at 1am on April 13th.


Both had been in the Sanctuary nightclub, but had not met there. Police had examined social media and they could find no evidence anywhere to suggest Ms Buckley knew or ever met Pacteau until she accepted his offer of a lift home.

But Pacteau, rather than driving Ms Buckley to her flat on Hill Street in Garnethill, drove instead to Kelvin Way where during a 12 minute period between 1.06am and 1.18am, he grabbed her by the throat and hit her on the head 12 or 13 times with a heavy spanner, killing her.

A postmortem found Ms Buckley suffered a fractured skull and a subdural haemorrhage. She also had injuries to both hands and arms consistent with trying to defend herself. Some injuries on Pacteau’s arms also suggested Ms Buckley “put up a fight and fought for her life,” Mr Mulholland said.

There was no evidence of Ms Buckley being sexually assaulted.

Pacteau’s statement to the police - made when he was still being treated as a witness and not a suspect - that she returned to his flat for consensual sex was nothing but lies, Mr Mulholland told the court.

The only time Ms Buckley ever entered the flat on Dorchester Avenue was when he brought her there after her death to soak her body in a bath of caustic soda in a bid to destroy her remains.

When this failed, he put her body in a barrel full of the same solution and hid it at a storage unit at a farm at High Craighton, where police discovered the remains days later.

Originally from Glynn in Mourneabbey outside Mallow in Co Cork, Ms Buckley had moved to Glasgow in January for a two year post-graduate Masters in Occupational Therapy at Glasgow Caledonian University, having earlier qualified with a B Sc in Nursing from the University of Limerick in January 2014.

While completing the four year course at the University of Limerick, Ms Buckley had worked at both University Hospital Limerick and St John's Hospital in Ennis. Upon graduation, she travelled in the US and Thailand before getting a job as at the Princess Alexandria Hospital in Harlow in Essex.

Ms Buckley spent a year working in Harlow before she moved to Glasgow where she got accommodation with some of her Irish occupational therapy classmates on Hill Street in Garnetthill near Glasgow Caledonian University.

She went out socialising on the night of April 11th with her flatmates, arriving at the Sanctuary Nightclub on Dumbarton Road in the city’s West End at about 11.25pm.

According to the police, Ms Buckley’s friends told them she had been drinking but was not drunk when she announced she was going to the toilet at about 1am. She failed to return, causing them much concern.

The friends went home to their flat at Hill Street and when Ms Buckley had not come home by lunchtime on Sunday, April 12th, they contacted police, saying how worried they were as it was out of character for her.

Police Scotland visited the Sanctuary where management and staff showed them CCTV footage from the nightclub. They identified Ms Buckley leaving at about 1am and crossing the road, where she was seen talking to a stocky young man.

Nightclub staff did not know the man but they were able to tell police he had been part of a group who had hired a booth. They told police they knew another member of the group. When police contacted that young man, he identified the man on the CCTV footage talking to Ms Buckley as Pacteau.

On Monday afternoon, police called to Pacteau’s flat on Dorchester Avenue in Kelvindale, some 3.7kms from the Sanctuary. He was not at home but when they called again at 6pm, he told them he was just on the point of calling to see them.

By then, Police Scotland had issued an appeal for information on Ms Buckley's whereabouts. While they were still officially treating her disappearance as a missing person investigation, there is evidence to suggest that by then, police believed she may have been the victim of foul play.

Pacteau went to Helen Street Police Station on Monday night to make a witness statement in which he told police he had met Ms Buckley outside the nightclub and she had come back to his flat. He claimed they had consensual sex and she left at 4am to walk home.

Police were suspicious of Pacteau's story and believed they could disprove his statement. However, at a press conference at 2pm on Tuesday, Det Supt Jim Kerr of the Major Investigations Unit stressed that Pacteau, whom he didn't name, was not a suspect at that point.

Ms Buckley’s parents, John and Marian had flown to Scotland on the Monday morning and they issued an emotional appeal at same press conference for anyone with any information about their daughter to contact the police.

“She is our only daughter and we love her dearly - we just want Karen home safely - we are desperate and if anyone has any information, please come forwards,” Ms Buckley told the press conference.

Her daughter was already dead at the hands of Pacteau.