Karen Buckley murder: Alexander Pacteau admits killing Glasgow student with spanner

Miss Buckley, 24, disappeared after a night out with friends in April

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The Independent Online

A 21-year-old man has admitted murdering a Glasgow student who disappeared after a night out with friends earlier this year.

Karen Buckley's body was found at a farm on the outskirts of the Scottish city days after she went missing in April.

Appearing at Glasgow's High Court, Alexander Pacteau pleaded guilty to murdering her by repeatedly hitting her on the head and body with a spanner and attempting to hide the evidence.

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Alexander Pacteau, 21, who admitted murdering Karen Buckley, from Cork, when he appeared at the High Court in Glasgow.

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 12 April with Pacteau.

Police initially said she travelled to his flat a few miles away in Dorchester Avenue before leaving some hours later, but Pacteau has now admitted murdering Miss Buckley in his silver Ford Focus.

In July last year, Pacteau was handed a community sentence for printing £6,000 of fake £20 notes at his home. He was spared a possible jail sentence after his lawyers argued he was ashamed of telling his family he was receiving disability benefits following a 2011 car crash.

In that case, Glasgow Sheriff Court was told that Pacteau had no previous convictions and was privately educated at the Kelvinside Academy, the Clydebank Post reported.

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Alexander Pacteau being questioned by detectives

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

During the 12 minutes the car was parked, Pacteau attacked and murdered her by grabbing her neck and delivering at least 12 blows with the spanner. Injuries to Miss Buckley's arm indicate she attempted to defend herself, the court heard.

Pacteau's car was then caught on CCTV leaving the area and heading towards Dawsholm Park, where a passer-by discovered Miss Buckley's handbag the next morning.

Speaking for the prosecution, Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland QC told the court how Pacteau drove to his flat and took Miss Buckley's body into his bedroom.

At 8am he used his mobile phone to research the properties of sodium hydroxide, known as caustic soda, and left to buy six litres of the chemical at B&Q, along with masks and gloves.

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Police outside Pacteau's flat in Dorchester Avenue

After texting his flatmate to make sure he was out for the day, he returned to the building and left Miss Buckley's body in the bath. His friend returned hours later to find him cleaning the hallway and stairs.

Pacteau had moved Miss Buckley's body into his locked bedroom, wrapped in a duvet to conceal it, the court heard.

Mr Mulholland told the court how Pacteau left his flat at around 5am the following morning and threw the spanner into the nearby Forth and Clyde Canal before buying cleaning products at a supermarket, where he asked a member of staff how best to remove blood from a mattress.

He then travelled to High Craigton Farm in Milngavie, where he previously rented a storage unit while working selling fireworks, and burned clothes and the mattress using white spirit.

After purchasing a large plastic barrel, Pacteau used it to transport Miss Buckley's body to the farm and hide it in a locked storage unit.

Pacteau had his car cleaned and was preparing to sell it when police called at his home hours after he disposed of the body, having identified him from CCTV footage.

In initial interviews he claimed he had consensual sex with Miss Buckley at his flat and that she had injured herself on the bed frame.

Admitting burning clothes and the mattress, he claimed he had panicked knowing he was the last person to see her alive but insisted he was innocent of her murder.

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Police stand at the entrance to High Craigton Farm near Milngavie, where Karen Buckley's body was found

A trail of evidence led police to High Craigton Farm, where they found Miss Buckley's body inside covered in corrosives, ending a four-day search involving divers, a helicopter and search dogs.

Miss Buckley's family, who travelled to Scotland from their home in Cork during the search, said they were “absolutely heartbroken” at her death and vigils were held in Scotland and Ireland.

Her father John Buckley, 62, described his daughter as an outgoing girl who would be deeply missed by all who knew her.

"Karen was our only daughter, cherished by her family and loved by her friends," he said.

"She was an outgoing girl who travelled the world, where she met lots of people and thoroughly enjoyed her life. We will miss her terribly.”

Additional reporting by PA