One year on: Timeline of Karen Buckley's 'shocking and disturbing' murder

On April 11, 2015, the Irish student went for a night out in Glasgow and never returned home.

Karen Buckley: Irish student at Glasgow Caledonian University. <strong>© SWNS Group</strong>
Karen Buckley: Irish student at Glasgow Caledonian University. © SWNS Group

11th: Irish student Karen Buckley met with three other friends at a flat in the Garnethill area of Glasgow for drinks before a night out. The group headed to Sanctuary nightclub on Dumbarton Road and arrived around 11.45pm.

On the same evening Alexander Pacteau had a group of friends around at his flat in Dorchester Avenue before heading to a pre-booked booth at the same venue. Their taxi was late, which prompted him to drive there and park his car further along the road from Sanctuary.

12th: At 1am Ms Buckley told friends she was going to the toilet; however she did not return and had not taken her jacket with her. She had left to take a taxi home and encountered Pacteau who offered to drive her in his car.

After driving a mile down the road Pacteau pulled into Kelvin Way and parked, for 12 minutes and 46 seconds according to CCTV nearby, during which time he attacked and killed Ms Buckley by battering her with a spanner.

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The car was seen leaving around 1.18am and the 21-year-old driver headed for Dawsholme Park where he dumped Ms Buckley’s handbag in a bin.

He kept the body in his flat on Sunday, buying caustic soda and submerging her in the bath, leaving her in there for hours while he cleaned the blood from his bedroom. It did not work and he wrapped her up in a duvet in his room.

13th: The following day Pacteau attempted to get rid of the spanner in the River Clyde and asked Tesco staff for advice on how to get blood out of a mattress. He then decided to move the body to High Craigton Farm, near Drymen, where a fireworks company he used to work for stored their products.

Meanwhile the 24-year-old student was reported missing and a press conference is called by Police Scotland with Inspector Alan Bowater saying “a large amount of officers” had been dedicated to the inquiry.

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At 4pm, after discovering Pacteau on CCTV footage, police arrived at 21-year-old Pacteau’s flat to find it empty. They returned two hours later and he claimed he was going to tell the police everything.

Dorchester Avenue: Bedroom belonging to Alexander Pacteau.

15th: A number of developments were made after the search into the missing student continued. The CCTV images were released and it was confirmed Pacteau was assisting police with their inquiries.

He told officers they had travelled to his flat on Dorchester Avenue and had consensual sex before Ms Buckley was believed to have left at 4am. Officers searching the nearby area found her handbag in Dawsholm Park while the garden of the flat had been taped off by police, as was the farm.

Detective superintendent Jim Kerr, who led the murder probe, told RTE in an interview several months later that Pacteau seemed “measured” and “calm” as he lied to police when being questioned over the murder, while chief inspector Allan Burton said the killer seemed to “have an answer for everything”.

Later that day police confirmed a man had been detain in connection with the disappearance of the nurse and police were “following a definite line of enquiry”.

Pacteau was in a Starbucks on Nelson Mandela place in Glasgow city centre when officers took him in as an official suspect. Hours after, a member of the public called police and informed them of his connection to High Craigton Farm.

CCTV images: Karen Buckley and Alexander Pacteau.

16th: In the early hours of Thursday morning, not long after the man was detained, police confirmed human remains had been found at the farm area. They were identified as those of Karen Buckley later in the afternoon.

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17th: A day after the discovery of Ms Buckley’s remains, the man who had been detained in connection with her disappearance is revealed as 21-year-old Pacteau. He appeared in Glasgow Sheriff Court and was charged with murdering the Irish student.

Meanwhile, in the city’s George Square, hundreds of mourners turned out for a candlelit vigil to pause for reflection in a busy Friday afternoon. A piper played as members of the public brought flowers, candles and cards with messages expressing grief.

George Square: Hundreds turned out to remember Karen Buckley. STV

19th: Another candlelit vigil was held in the student’s memory, this time by her neighbours and residents of the Garnethill area of Glasgow. Around 120 people lit more than 1000 candles arranged in the shape of a Celtic symbol as the “wee close-knit community” continued to struggle to come to terms with the tragedy.

21st: A week on from her disappearance Karen’s nursing classmates, friends and lecturers at Glasgow Caledonian University held a memorial in the city campus. Fellow former students from the University of Limerick had set up a campaign to help pay for her family’s accommodation and expenses during their stay in Glasgow and raised more than £50,000.

28th: The family returned to Ireland by the end of the month and Karen’s funeral was arranged. Hundreds of mourners turned out to pay tribute in her native Mourneabbey, near Mallow in Co Cork, with her brothers carrying the coffin. Many travelled from Scotland to say their goodbyes and the local parish church was not big enough for the crowds.

Co Cork: Karen Buckley’s funeral. Brian Lawless/PA Wire/Press Association Images

June 4: A potential witness was sought by officers after being seen on CCTV near the Gallus Pub on Dumbarton Road at 12.30am that night, getting into a taxi towards Great Western Road.

Police Scotland stated she was “in no way connected with the death” and was later traced by those investigating the case.

Any thought of a long trial or prolonged legal process was quashed as the 21-year-old admitted killing Ms Buckley in what Judge Lady Rae described as a “shocking and disturbing case” involving the “motiveless, senseless” killing of a stranger.

After Pacteau’s appearance in the dock the Buckley family issued a statement saying they were haunted by her final moments. Her father John said finding out his daughter had disappeared was their “worst nightmare”, made worse when they found out she had been murdered.

STV News also revealed a court transcript of a previous appearance at court for Pacteau where he stood trial accused of attempting to rape a woman in a lane off Woodlands Road. He was described as a “daft young lad” and told the jury he was a homosexual who felt “overwhelmed” after being caught by officers near the scene of the alleged attack.

8th: The former private schoolboy was jailed for a minimum of 23 years with Judge Lady Rae telling the killer she could not ignore what he had done in covering up the murder in the following days.

However the sentence was restricted by Lady Rae who said her “hands were tied” in terms of a longer sentence due to a charge being dropped. The Crown dropped the charge related to his attempts to cover up the murder.

19th: Not a fortnight later Pacteau lodged an appeal to reduce his sentence.

22: A couple of days later it emerged the flat on Dorchester Avenue was back on the market, advertised at £675 per month.

The case was due to be heard on Friday December 4, but just two days before the Scottish Courts Service confirmed his advocate had lodged paperwork indicating he was abandoning his appeal.

In January 2016 it was revealed he was doing so after his mother told him to. Noreen Dow and partner Tommy told the Irish Star newspaper they had visited him in Shotts Prison and asked him to drop the appeal “out of respect”.


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