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Murderer can wave goodbye to youth - he won't be back on the streets until he is 44

WITH an almost imperceptible nod of his head, killer Alexander Pacteau (21) said goodbye to his youth.

Dressed in a charcoal-grey suit and white tie, Pacteau was flanked by two prison officers and was before Justice Lady Rae, in Glasgow High Court, for his sentencing hearing for less than 18 minutes.

When Pacteau is finally released from his life sentence, in 2038, for the horrific murder of Karen Buckley, he will be 44. His youth will be nothing more than a fading memory.

And by 2038, he will have spent more than half his life behind bars.

Instead of the bright future promised by his privileged upbringing and attendance at one of Glasgow's most prestigious schools, Pacteau will spend the next quarter-century in one of Europe's toughest prisons.

Instead of launching business ventures, as he had planned when he briefly attended Anniesland College, Pacteau will be hoping that he can eventually emerge from the special protection measures he currently has in Barlinnie Prison and enter one of the jail's education and work programmes.

Because of the nature and violence of his crime, Pacteau currently has to be protected from other inmates in Barlinnie.

Pacteau's barrister, John Scullion, repeated to the High Court that his client was very sorry for what he had done in the early hours of April 12, when he bludgeoned an unsuspecting Karen Buckley to death, just minutes after she had left The Sanctuary nightclub.

Mr Scullion acknowledged that Pacteau's actions in trying to dispose of Karen's body were "despicable and beneath contempt".

And yesterday, at least in terms of his physical actions, Pacteau offered little sign of remorse.

The burly, former grammar schoolboy, who weighs almost 15 stone, never turned around in the South Court of Glasgow's High Court to view the devastation he had wrought on a tight-knit Irish farming family.

He never glanced at Karen's heartbroken parents and never spoke a single word, before he was led away from the courtroom to begin his life sentence.

John (62) and Marian (61) Buckley sat just four metres from the young man who had handed their beloved daughter a death that every parent dreads in their darkest nightmares.

As John Buckley revealed, Pacteau not only took their beloved Karen from them in life, he also took her from them in death - because his decision to try to dispose of her remains in a barrel of caustic soda meant her Cork funeral arrangements had to involve a closed casket.

The couple, from Mourneabbey in north Cork, clasped hands at one point yesterday in a gesture of mutual support, almost as if the nightmare of their daughter's murder was too much to bear.

Few doubted the agony that their latest trip to Glasgow involved.

Two Police Scotland liaison officers never left their side throughout the court hearing.

At 9am, as the couple arrived at the High Court for the 10am hearing, they were carefully flanked by Police Scotland officers and were escorted through the crowd of waiting reporters and photographers.

Throughout the day, the couple never once lost their composure and maintained a dignified stance throughout the short hearing.

Having spoken so eloquently outside Glasgow High Court on August 11, when Pacteau admitted Karen's murder, John Buckley opted yesterday to allow Scotland's Crown Office to issue a written statement on his behalf.

The couple were simply too emotionally drained to face the combined Irish, Scottish and English media again.

It was left to Justice Lady Rae to put into words what the Buckley family felt.

She described Pacteau's crime as "dreadful, callous and calculating".

The judge also specifically noted that, in one social services report, Pacteau hadn't once used phrases like 'sorry', 'remorse' or 'regret'.

There had been speculation that Pacteau might release a statement yesterday of apology and remorse to the Buckley family - but none came.

It was simply left to his barrister, who had issued an apology on his behalf on August 11.

Minutes before they left the historical old courthouse, the Buckleys admitted the 23-year prison term handed to Alexander Pacteau offered them little solace. Mr Buckley stressed that nothing will bring back their beloved Karen, or undo the nightmare they endured last April.

And as the couple emerged into the Indian summer of a glorious Glasgow September day, they took some small comfort.

The streets of Glasgow are now safer for women to walk - now that Alexander Pacteau is behind bars.

Irish Independent