Karen Buckley: Timeline of disappearance and death

Alexander Pacteau has pleaded guilty to the murder of Karen Buckley in Glasgow


11pm: Alexander Pacteau orders two taxis to call to his flat at Dorchester Avenue in Kelvindale in Glasgow to bring himself and a group of seven friends to the Sanctuary Nightclub on Dumbarton Road in the city's West End.

11.25pm: Karen Buckley and three Irish friends, who are all studying occupational therapy at Glasgow Caledonian University and living in flats at Hill Street, Garnethill, arrive at the Sanctuary Nightclub and spend 20 minutes queuing to get into the club

11.38pm: Pacteau and his friends enter the Sanctuary nightclub after the second taxi fails to show up and he drives with two of his friends in his Ford Focus and parks 100 metres from the nightclub on the Dumbarton Road.



1am: Alexander Pacteau leaves the nightclub, where he and his friends had booked a booth, before returning. He leaves the nightclub a second time and walks up and down the road across from the club.

1am: Karen Buckley leaves the nightclub and crosses the road, where she meets Alexander Pacteau. He appears to engage her in conversation. They walk together; he offers here a lift home and they travel in the direction of her flat at Hill Street in his car.

1.06am-1.18am: Pacteau drives to Kelvin Way where his car is parked for 12 minutes 46 seconds during which time, he kills Ms Buckley, grabbing her by the throat with one hand before striking her repeatedly on the head with a wrench.

1.26am: Pacteau drives to Dawsholm Park with Ms Buckley's body in his car. He spends 26 minutes there, during which time he dumps her handbag by a council rubbish bin.

2am: Pacteau drives back to his flat on Dorchester Avenue where he gets a sheet in which he wraps Ms Buckley's body and brings her into his bedroom before he goes to sleep.

7am: A member of the public finds Ms Buckley's handbag near a council refuse bin near the entrance to Dawsholm Park, less than a kilometre from Pacteau's flat.

8am: Pacteau gets up and uses his mobile phone to research the chemical properties of sodium hydroxide, better known as caustic soda.

9.42am: Pacteau goes to B&Q on the Great Western Way to buy six litres of caustic soda, a mask and gloves.

11am: Pacteau also buys more caustic soda at Poundstretchers on Crow Road.

12-1pm: Ms Buckley's friends become concerned when they find that she has not returned home and they contact Police Scotland in Glasgow because they say it is highly out of character for her.

12.38pm: Pacteau texts his flatmate, saying he has lost his house keys and asking him what time he is returning home from his hillwalking expedition with his mother, who had stayed over the previous night. His flatmate replies that he won't be home until 8pm.

Pacteau remains in the flat for the rest of the day during which time he removes Ms Buckley’s clothing. After filling the bath with caustic soda, he submerges her body in the solution and leaves her there for several hours.

Pacteau attempts to clean up the blood from his bedroom and other rooms in the flat. Pacteau gets a knife and makes an incision from her sternum to her abdomen to allow the corrosive solution enter her body with the intent to speed up the decomposition process.

5pm: Pacteau drains the bath and removes Ms Buckley's body and brings it back into his bedroom where he wraps her body in a duvet and locks his bedroom with a padlock.

8.15pm: Pacteau's flatmate arrives back with his mother and discovers Pacteau cleaning the hall and the passageway up to the flat.

8.30pm: Pacteau goes to his bed where he goes to sleep.


4.52am: Pacteau goes to Bridge 27 on the Forth & Clyde canal near his flat and dumps the spanner into the canal. He then drives to Tesco on the Maryhill Road and asks a staff member to recommend cleaning products to remove blood stains from a mattress.

6.27am: Pacteau drives to Tesco at Milngavie, north of Glasgow, to buy white spirits and a lighter. He then drives 6km to High Craighton Farm to burn Ms Buckley's clothing and some blood stained items from his flat, including clothes and sponges.

8.34am: Pacteau uses his mobile phone to ring a storage equipment supplier, Invopak and orders a 220 litre blue barrel which he collects from their depot at City Park Industrial Estate in the East End.

9.38am: He buys more caustic soda and drain unblocking fluid from Poundstretchers before returning to his flat.

At some point after returning home, he wraps an extension cable around Ms Buckley’s body, wrapped brown parcel tape around her head and places her body in the barrel.

He ties up the bloodstained mattress using phone charger cables and is seen by a neighbour putting the mattress, a suitcase on which Ms Buckley’s body had rested and other items in his car.

10.27am: Pacteau drives to Asda in Bearsden to buy lighter fluid.

10.41am: He then drives to High Craighton Farm and burns the mattress, duvet, clothes and suitcase.

11.19am: Pacteau returns to his flat. He fills the barrel with a mixture of drain unblocker fluid and caustic soda solution, submerging Ms Buckley's body.

2pm: Pacteau is seen by a neighbour struggling to bring the barrel from his first floor flat down to his car.

2.22pm: Pacteau drives to Asda in Bearsden to buy two padlocks and white spirits.

2.35pm: Pacteau is seen driving on the Stockiemuir Road towards High Craighton Farm where he meets a local farmer, inquires about renting a storage unit from him and they agree a price of £10 for the week. Pacteau returns to his car, removes the barrel and puts it in one of the sheds, locking the barrel with a padlock.

3.41pm: Pacteau buys another padlock at Tesco at Milngavie and returns to the farm where he locks the shed, before departing from the farm for the last time.

4.16pm: Pacteau takes his car to Anniesland Car Valet Centre to get the vehicle cleaned.

6pm: Police call to Pacteau's flat after they identify him as the man seen talking to Ms Buckley on CCTV footage outside the nightclub. It is their second time calling to the flat – he was not at home earlier when they called. He opens the door and says: "I was just coming to see you."

Police enter the flat and notice it smells of bleach. They notice unusual items in the bedroom including a tool box, roll of parcel tape and nailbrushes and that the mattress doesn’t fit the bed.

Pacteau tells police that he met Ms Buckley outside the Sanctuary Nightclub and that she came back to his flat but left around 4am. Pacteau agrees to go to Helen Street police station to make a witness statement. During a search of his clothes at the police station, officers find a receipt for drain unblocker and caustic soda and two small keys.

He gives police a version of events which he now accepts was untrue - that Ms Buckley returned to his flat where they had drinks and consensual sex but she hit her head on the bedframe and left the flat at 4am. He says he didn’t realise she had been bleeding until he saw blood on the bedsheets the next morning.

He says when he realised the police were looking for information about her, because she was missing, he panicked and began trying to get the blood out of the mattress. He says he took the mattress and clothes to a forest road near Drymen where he burned them.

11.55pm: Police cordon off his flat and begin a forensic examination. Pacteau stays the night at the Holiday Inn in Glasgow while the forensic examination continues.


4am: Police remove Pacteau's Ford Focus from outside his flat for forensic examination. They had sealed off the vehicle on Monday night.

1.40pm: A member of the public contacts police to tell them they found Ms Buckley's handbag with her mobile phone and passport near a rubbish bin at Dawsholm Park at 7am on Monday April 13th. Police mount a huge search operation at the park with specialist teams including search helicopters and sniffer dogs.

2pm: Police in Scotland hold a press conference with Ms Buckley's parents, John and Marian where Marian appeals for any information on their daughter's whereabouts. "We are desperate to get her back and safe with her family - she is our daughter, we love her dearly and just want her to come home safe and sound," she says.

Det Supt Jim Kerr from the Major Investigations Team says: "Although this is very much a missing person inquiry, we are gravely concerned for Karen's safety".

He confirms that police have identified the man that Ms Buckley was seen with outside the nightclub but stresses he is not a suspect. He confirms police established that Karen was in the Dorchester Avenue area in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Det Supt Kerr also reveals police are looking for a grey or silver car that was seen in the Milngavie or Drymen areas between 11am and 3pm on Monday, April 13th.


The Daily Record publishes an interview with Pacteau's mother, Noreen in which she says her son had nothing to do with Ms Buckley's disappearance and she quotes the comments made by Det Supt Kerr at the press conference that he was not a suspect.

1.55pm: Police have enough evidence to detain Pacteau as a suspect and he is detained at Starbucks on Nelson Mandela Place in Glasgow City Centre and brought to Helen Street Police station for questioning. He makes no comment when arrested.

Police search Pacteau and find a handwritten note, written on Holiday Inn notepaper, and outlines what he said to police when he made a witness statement on April 13th.

3pm: Following an appeal, a caller contacts police and informs them of Pacteau's link to High Craighton Farm where he used to store fireworks in a previous job. His car also matches the description of the vehicle sought by police.

3.30pm: Police go to the farm and begin an extensive search of the area, which contains a number of houses and outhouses.

8pm: Police find the blue barrel and after being declared safe for examination, they open it to discover Ms Buckley's body in a foetal position, partially submerged in a caustic soda solution.

THURSDAY April 16th

3.40am: A post mortem examination at Southern General Hospital confirms Ms Buckley had been the victim of an assault. Police arrest Pacteau on suspicion of murdering Ms Buckley.

4pm: Police hold a short press conference at Govan Police Station where Det Supt Jim Kerr confirms the body found was that of Ms Buckley and that her family have been made aware of the discovery.

Det Supt Kerr confirms a 21-year-old man has been arrested in connection with Ms Buckley’s death and a report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal (Scotland’s equivalent of the DPP) and it is anticipated that the man will appear in court the next day.

Det Supt Kerr also reads a statement on behalf of Ms Buckley’s family in which her father John says that Marian, himself and their three sons, Brendan, Kieran and Damian are “absolutely heartbroken”.


3pm: Pacteau is formally charged with the murder of Ms Buckley and attempting to defeat the ends of justice when he appears at a private sitting of Glasgow Sheriff's Court before Sheriff Charles MacFarlane. He makes no plea or declaration and is remanded in custody

5.30pm: Hundreds of people, including Ms Buckley's parents attend a vigil in George Square in Glasgow.


Police divers locate the spanner used to kill Ms Buckley.


Police searching High Craighton Farm fined a partially burned mattress. Forensic tests show it contains samples of Karen Buckley’s blood while they also find her blood on an empty roll of parcel tape.


Alexander Pacteau pleads guilty in a court in Glasgow to the murder of Karen Buckley.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times