Wednesday 28 September 2016

'He is truly evil' - Karen Buckley's family give emotional statement after Alexander Pacteau admits her murder

Published 11/08/2015 | 12:07

THE heartbroken family of murdered Irish nurse Karen Buckley (24) described her killer as "a cowardly, vicious criminal" and said they hope he spends the rest of his life behind bars.

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John Buckley (62), his voice breaking with emotion, read out a statement minutes after Alexander Pacteau (21) pleaded guilty to his daughter's murder before Glasgow High Court.

Pacteau now faces a life sentence though the actual amount of time he will spend in prison will only be determined on September 8 next.

Mr Buckley said Pacteau had robbed his family of "our little angel" and he admitted he was heartbroken at the tragic waste of a young life packed with potential.

Karen Buckley
Karen Buckley
Karen Buckley
Karen Buckley

"Our hearts are broken at the thought of Karen’s final moments on this world. The thought of her being alone, frightened and struggling for her life haunts us," he said.

"The panic and fear she experienced as she fought for her very survival but she had no chance against that coward. The last face she saw and the last voice she heard was of that cold-blooded, cowardly murderer, who calmly set about trying to dispose of her body so she would never be found."

Mr Buckley, flanked his wife, Marian (61), who held aloft a photograph of Karen, paid moving tribute to the people of Glasgow for all they did to help bring Pacteau to justice.

"Only for the swift action of the police and the people of Glasgow we were able to find Karen and bring her home and give her a dignified burial."

"But not only did he rob Karen of her precious life and future but he robbed us of our beautiful daughter/sister. He also robbed us of Karen in death as we never got to see her, hold her or kiss her good bye."

The Buckley family said while they are indebted to the people of Glasgow and Police Scotland, they hope the case highlights the need for greater street safety.

"It is too late now for Karen but in the future we hope Glasgow will be a safer place for women to walk in, which is their right and to not have this evil murderer to fear," Mr Buckley said.

"Coming back to Glasgow where our beautiful daughter / sister was brutally murdered, is incredible difficult for all of us."

"It is every parent’s worst nightmare as we know now, when we got that phone call, Karen was missing in Glasgow and her phone had gone dead.

We went over, waited, hoped, and prayed day and night for her safe return, only to be told she had been murdered."

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

"We were devastated," he said.

"Having to phone our three sons and give them the dreadful news before they heard it on the media was one of the hardest things we ever had to do. Kieran and Damien were on route from Sydney. It took several hours throughout the night to make contact with them."

"Brendan was at home. I dread to think of them trying to deal with the shock and horror of being told that their only sister had been brutally murdered."

"When Karen’s body was released a week later, we went back to Glasgow as a family and brought her to our home in Mourneabbey. That was a very special night as we were all together again under the one roof where Karen and her three brothers had grown up."

"Two days later after the funeral mass, our three sons and I lowered Karen’s coffin into her grave, her final resting place."

"What a waste of a young life. It all seemed unreal."

"All Karen was doing was making her way home when she was randomly targeted and murdered by a cowardly vicious criminal. No words of ours can do justice to our feelings towards him. He is truly evil and we hope that he will spend the rest of his life behind bars."

Mr Buckley said his entire family now cherish the memories they hold of Karen.

"We will never see Karen again in this life. Never see her smiling face, hear her laugh and hear her voice. There are no words to describe our loss. We know even though she is gone from this life, she is still very close to us."

"She will always be in our broken hearts wherever we go. We talk to her, pray to her and we know that she will help us. Though Karen will never come back, we only hope someday to be with her."

Mr Buckley's voice broke as he revealed the phrase his family now have for Karen.

"One word has come up so many times and Marian has said it again and again. Karen is our Little Angel and she is right."

"She is not suffering now, she is in her new home in heaven. We miss her terribly," he said.

A major search was launched for 24-year-old Miss Buckley 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 four days later in a barrel 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.

Today, the court heard how Pacteau, who has a previous conviction for printing counterfeit £20 notes, 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, who describes himself as a "self-employed sales consultant", attacked and murdered her by grabbing her neck and delivering 12 or 13 blows with the spanner.

Miss Buckley suffered injuries to her arm as she tried to defend herself.

Pacteau's silver Ford Focus was captured 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.

Read more: Revealed: Police release pictures used as part of Karen Buckley murder investigation

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.

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.

Mr Mulholland told the court how Pacteau left his flat at around 5am the following morning and went to a bridge over 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 order 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 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 then visited a car valet on his way home, at around 4pm.

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 on the CCTV footage.

As he opened the door to the police Pacteau said 'I was just coming to see you'.

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

Read more: Karen Buckley's dad: 'It sometimes feels like all of this isn't real'

Pacteau gave a statement saying he met Miss 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 because he was aware he was the last person to see her alive.

Meanwhile, police searching his flat found traces of Miss Buckley's blood.

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

The court heard how a witness had contacted police after reading that Pacteau was the last person to see Miss Buckley and told officers about the storage unit at the farm that Pacteau used in the past.

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

The court heard how Pacteau, who sat in the dock with his head bowed, later 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.

Miss Buckley's disappearance sparked a major search and her parents Marian and John flew over from Ireland to appeal for help in finding her.

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

She described it as a 'brutal and senseless killing' and said that Pacteau's actions "smacked of a person who was callous and calculating".

Pacteau now faces a mandatory life sentence, but the Lord Advocate adjourned detailing the terms of that sentence until September 8, saying she wished to reflect on victim impact statements.

Read more: 'A nurse with plans, a woman full of dreams, an adventurer who travelled and in fun and laughter revelled'

Read more: Timeline: how events unfolded since night of Karen Buckley's death

Read more: Karen Buckley murder: what we know now

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