Alexander Pacteau Admits Murder Of Karen Buckley

11 August 2015, 12:22 | Updated: 30 March 2016, 13:50

Karen on the night she went missing

A man has admitted murdering Irish student Karen Buckley, who disappeared after a night out in Glasgow.

Alexander Pacteau, 21, who repeatedly hit his victim on the head and body with a spanner, pleaded guilty when he appeared at the High Court in the city.

A major search was launched for 24-year-old Miss Buckley, from Cork, when she was reported missing from the flat she shared with friends after failing to return home from a nightclub in Glasgow's west end in April this year.

Her body was found days later at a farm on the outskirts of the city.

Miss Buckley, a nurse who was studying for a post-graduate qualification at Glasgow Caledonian University, was seen on CCTV leaving The Sanctuary nightclub in the early hours of Sunday April 12 and the footage captured her talking to a man as they walked along Dumbarton Road.

Detectives soon said they were treating her disappearance as a high-risk missing person inquiry and her parents also flew over from Ireland.

By the Tuesday, police revealed they had spoken to the man seen talking to Miss Buckley outside the club who had said she travelled with him to his flat a few miles away in Dorchester Avenue before leaving some hours later.

Police also appealed for information about a grey car that was seen on the roads between Milngavie and Drymen on the Sunday.

Meanwhile, the student's handbag had been found at a park near to the man's flat and the police hunt focused on the two sites in the north west of the city.

The man was named in reports as Alexander Pacteau and the following day he was detained by police.

A body was later found at High Craigton Farm near Milngavie, ending the four-day police search.

Pacteau was arrested and appeared in court on April 17 charged with murder.

He pleaded guilty to the charge today, admitting attacking her in his car on April 12 by strangling her and repeatedly hitting her with the spanner.

The court heard how Pacteau had met Miss Buckley outside the club in the early hours of the morning and drove with her in his car to nearby Kelvin Way.

The car was parked on the street for 12 minutes, during which time Pacteau attacked and murdered her by grabbing her neck and delivering 12 or 13 blows with the spanner.

The court was told Miss Buckley suffered some injuries to her arm as she tried to defend herself.

Pacteau's silver Ford Focus was seen on CCTV leaving the area and heading towards Dawsholm Park, where the following morning a member of the public found Miss Buckley's handbag near a bin.

Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland QC, prosecuting, told the court how Pacteau then drove to his flat and took Miss Buckley's body inside to his room.

At 8am he used his mobile phone to look up the properties of a chemical called sodium hydroxide, or caustic soda. He then locked his bedroom door and travelled to a B&Q store where he bought six litres of the chemical and masks and gloves, the court heard. He also went to a Poundstretcher store near his flat and bought more of the chemical.

He texted his flatmate to make sure he was out for the day, then returned to the flat and left Miss Buckley's body in the bath.

Pacteau was found cleaning the hall and stairwell when his flatmate returned home at around 8pm. He had moved her body into his locked bedroom again wrapped in a duvet, the court heard.

Mr Mulholland told the court how Pacteau left his flat at around 5am the following morning and went to a bridge of the nearby Forth and Clyde Canal where he threw the spanner into the water.

He then drove to a supermarket and bought cleaning products and asked a member of staff to recommend a product for removing blood from a mattress.

Pacteau made his first journey to High Craigton Farm, an area familiar to him as he rented a storage unit there during a previous job selling fireworks, stopping off at a supermarket on the way to buy white spirit and a lighter, the court was told.

He burned some clothing while there before returning to his flat where he used his mobile phone to call a packaging company and ordered a large blue barrel.

Mr Mulholland said Pacteau collected the barrel and returned to Dorchester Avenue where he placed Miss Buckley's body in the barrel.

He then took the mattress in his car to the farmland where he burned it along with other items before returning to the flat and taking the barrel to his car.

He stopped off to buy padlocks at an Asda store then made his way to the farm where he arranged to rent two storage units for a week before moving the barrel into one of the units, covering it with a sheet and placing a bike wheel and paper shredder on top.

Pacteau visited a car valet on his way home, at around 4pm, the court heard.

While waiting for the Ford Focus to be cleaned, Pacteau used his phone to create an advert to sell his car.

Police officers knocked on his door around two hours later after he was identified as the man talking to Miss Buckley on CCTV.

As he opened the door to the police Pacteau said ``I was just coming to see you'', Mr Mulholland told the court.

The officers noticed a strong smell of bleach in the flat and a tool box and other items in a bedroom.

Pacteau agreed to go with the officers to the station as a witness. During a search, police found a Poundstrecher receipt for a series of chemicals and padlock keys in the 21-year-old's pockets.

He gave a statement saying he met Ms Buckley outside the club and they both went back to his flat where they had consensual sex.

He told police Miss Buckley had fallen and injured herself on the bed frame but he did not notice she had been bleeding until the following morning, and when he realised police were looking for information regarding her disappearance he panicked.

He told them he had burned the mattress and clothes on a forest road near Drymen and he did this because he was aware he was the last person to see her alive.

Meanwhile, police searching his flat removed items to be examined and Miss Buckley's blood was confirmed as being within the property.

When he was detained by police, officers recovered a hand-written note containing the account of what he had earlier told police.

The Lord Advocate said it was now accepted by the accused that his statements were untrue.

The court heard how a member of the public had contacted police after reading that Pacteau was the last person so see Karen and realising police were looking for information on a vehicle seen on roads near Drymen, the witness told officers about the storage unit at the farm that Pacteau used in the past.

Police then went to High Craigton Farm where they found the blue plastic barrel containing Miss Buckley's body.

A post-mortem examination showed she had suffered multiple injuries to her head consistent with blunt force, the court heard.

The court heard how Pacteau, who sat in the dock with his head bowed, was interviewed by police.

He told officers Miss Buckley had slapped him on the face when she was in his bedroom and he grabbed the first thing to hand to hit her and she died.

"Of course that is not the case,'' Mr Mulholland told the court.

Pacteau told detectives about the barrel and taking it to the farm. He was then arrested over her murder.

"No words of mine can express the effect this terrible murder has had on the family,'' the Lord Advocate said.