Tuesday 12 December 2017

Alexander Pacteau pleads guilty to brutal murder of Karen Buckley (24)

Alexander Pacteau
Alexander Pacteau

ALEXANDER Pacteau (21) today pleaded guilty to the brutal murder of Irish student Karen Buckley (24) in Scotland last April.

Pacteau, a former grammar schoolboy who is also known as Alexander Barr, remained emotionless in Glasgow's High Court as the formal plea was entered.

He appeared in court wearing a grey pin-stripe suit and was flanked by two prison officers.

Pacteau sat in the dock with his back towards the Buckley family who were seated just six metres away.


Buckley family arriving at hearing Credit: Mark Condren
Buckley family arriving at hearing Credit: Mark Condren

His guilty plea was confirmed as Karen’s family including her parents, John (62) and Marian (61), and brothers, Brendan (32), Damien (27) and

Kieran (28), attended the Glasgow court hearing.

They were supported Mourneabbey, Co Cork parish priest, Fr Joe O’Keeffe, and a Garda liaison officer.

It emerged that Pacteau first attempted to strangle the petite Cork nurse in his car before battering her to death with a heavy spanner.

She was struck up to 13 times in the head with the spanner and, such was the violence of the attack, the imprint of the wrench’s head was

left in her skull.

Karen Buckley
Karen Buckley

It also emerged that Karen bravely fought for her life, sustaining injuries to her hands as she battled to defend herself.

Karen, a University of Limerick (UL) nursing graduate, was murdered just minutes after she left ‘The Sanctuary’ nightclub on Glasgow’s

Dumbarton Road at 1am on April 12.

She had been out with friends but decided to leave to prepare for the final semester of her Masters Degree in Occupational Therapy at

Glasgow Caledonia University.

Tragically, Karen decided to walk home alone and accepted a lift from Pacteau who she had never met before.

Pacteau had been in ‘The Sanctuary’ club with his friends but had left before Karen.

He had been drinking heavily.

The murder took place in Pacteau’s Ford Focus car and, over the next 36 hours of April 12/13, the young man desperately tried to cover his

tracks and hide evidence of the killing.

He later placed Karen’s body in a blue plastic barrel together with 40 litres of caustic soda.

The barrel was then hidden in a storage shed on an isolated Glasgow hill farm.

Pacteau confirmed his guilty plea today before the Honorable Justice

Lady Rae in the North Court of Glasgow’s High Court complex.

He appeared amid tight security and a large media presence.

Pacteau has been in custody in Barlinnie Prison since last April.

Karen’s body was found following one of the biggest search operations in Police Scotland history.

The young nurse’s friends immediately became concerned for her welfare on April 12 as her disappearance was totally out of character.

Images of her outside the nightclub were caught on CCTV security camera footage.

Her handbag was later found in Dawsholm Park.

Detectives identified Pacteau as the man engaging Karen in conversation on the CCTV footage.

Karen's body was found on High Craigton Farm some 7km from Glasgow on April 15 just as a major vigil was being staged in Mourneabbey for her

safe return.

After the discovery of her body, a huge vigil was staged in Glasgow city centre as a gesture of support for her family by the Scottish


Mourneabbey parish priest, Fr Joe O'Keeffe, said the tightknit Cork farming community was absolutely heartbroken by the tragedy.

But he paid a special tribute to the Irish and Scottish communities for the overwhelming support and sympathy they have shown the Buckley family since April.

The Buckley family has also paid tribute to the professionalism and skill of the Police Scotland officers involved in the investigation.

A former waitress, Ms Buckley was described by colleagues as The Hibernian Hotel in Mallow, just 15km from her home, as ‘a cailin

Gaelach’ or ‘always smiling Irish girl.’

At her funeral in Mourneabbey, her former UL nursing classmates formed a special guard of honour, each in full nursing uniform and carrying a

single red rose.

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