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Tuesday 25 October 2016

Glasgow gripped by mystery of a 'sensible girl' who vanished

Published 15/04/2015 | 02:30

Karen Buckley
Marian and John Buckley
Police officers in Dawsholm Park in Glasgow where the handbag which police believe belongs to missing student Karen Buckley was found early this afternoon. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday April 14, 2015. A search was launched for Karen , 24, after she was seen on CCTV footage in the early hours of Sunday morning talking to a man outside the Sanctuary in Dumbarton Road, Glasgow. See PA story POLICE Missing. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
A police officer searches the undergrowth in Dawsholm Park in Glasgow
Dawsholm Park
Police search a house on Dorchester avenue Glasgow that missing Irish student Karen Buckley may have gone after leaving the Sanctuary nightclub on Dumbarton Road, Glagow.

The disappearance of Karen Buckley has gripped a windswept Glasgow, with the same name on every local's lips.

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The young student vanished from a popular city hotspot on Saturday night, leaving her friends and family sick with worry.

Her disappearance has dominated the headlines in the national titles here in recent days.

One local taxi driver exclaimed that it had even knocked the looming UK election off the front pages for the first time in weeks.

"The country is in shock," he said, "This is a nice, middle-class girl going missing from a very affluent part of the city. It is all anyone is talking about."

The 24-year-old moved to the Scottish city in January to study for a masters programme in occupational therapy at Caledonian University.

Originally from Mourneabbey near Mallow in Co Cork, she settled in well to life in Scotland.

The well-travelled young woman has touched foreign soil on the four corners of the world and had previously lived in the UK.

A qualified nurse, she spent one year working in Princess Alexandra Hospital in Essex.

It is for this reason that her disappearance came as such a shock to her family, who has said it was "very out of character".

Her father described Karen as a "sensible girl" who always stayed in touch.

She lived in a trendy city-centre neighbourhood with three friends, just a short walk from her college.

The bustling modern campus was a hive of activity yesterday as some of the university's 18,000 students filtered through the gates.

As one of the UK's most modern campuses, sheer glass surfaces reflected Glasgow's more traditional skyline.

But missing person photos were dotted on notice boards throughout the halls. And Karen Buckley's face could be seen amongst the crowds.

Among the chit-chat, students expressed their concern about their fellow college-goer.

"I hope she is okay and this is all just a mistake," said one first-year student.

"I don't feel as safe anymore, if someone has done something to her I'll be terrified."

The mood was so different three short days ago. In an apartment on Hill Street, Garnethill, the events of Saturday night would begin.

Friends prepared for a night out on the town and shared a few drinks before leaving for a popular student nightclub.

Pictures taken on the evening show Karen and her two friends posing for the camera in a typical student kitchen.

Arms slung over each others' shoulders, they are smiling, and dressed up for the night ahead. Karen has her dark hair curled and wears a black leather jacket which she would later leave behind her at the nightclub.

A handbag with a chain strap hangs over her shoulder.

The group arrived at the Sanctuary club, which sits directly across the road from Glasgow University, shortly before 11.45pm.

The building looks austere from outside, but inside it attracts a young, student crowd.

It was here that Karen's friends would see her for the last time before she disappeared. Shortly before 1am, she told friends that she was going to the toilets, but she never returned.

CCTV footage from the night would show the popular young woman interacting with a number of men.

Later, a man would drive her to his apartment two miles away on Dorchester Avenue. The man, who claims the pair were consensually intimate, said the nurse left at 4am and refused a lift or a taxi.

The unassuming road is quiet and peaceful, with locals saying that it was the last place that you would ever expect to see trouble.

But blue and white police tape was draped across one property yesterday with rubberneckers and nosey neighbours lining the streets for a look.

Police officers patrolled the streets of west Glasgow as shocked natives gossiped on the street corners.

Officers acknowledged that there has been a huge clamour to help with the search.

A short distance away, Karen's handbag was discovered in a bin at the entrance of Dawsholm Park. And a heavy police presence was clearly visible as they scoured the littered and dimly lit woodland.

Beyond that, the affluent area slowly peters out, with clear signs of neglect strewed across the dank and dirty ground.

If Ms Buckley had wandered here, she would have been almost five miles away from her home and heading in the wrong direction. Although she was new to the city, locals don't believe this was the case.

"You would know not to be here, just look around," said Alison McGowan, who lives nearby.

"This area is dark at night, there would be no reason for her to be here."

Despite having a few drinks, Ms Buckley's friends and the man whose apartment she went to said she was not drunk.

Family, friends and the police are appealing for anyone with any information to come forward.

Irish Independent

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