The George Murdoch Murder

The George Murdoch Murder

UPDATE October 2022:

The murder of Aberdeen Taxi Driver George Murdoch took place on 29thof September 1983, with the 39th anniversary having just passed. While George Murdoch’s murderer has still not been brought to justice, there have been a number of developments in the case.

Reward Increase:

The reward for information on who killed George has now been further increased and now stands at £50,000.

New Information Received:

Following information being received through social media, DI James Callander, the lead detective working on George Murdoch’s murder case, released fresh and potentially significant information to the papers and media. He was for anyone who knows of a male, likely now in his 60s, or 70s, who is small and of stocky build, with a local accent, who frequented Wilson’s Sports Bar, on Market St, Aberdeen in 2015, perhaps still does, and is known to wear or have worn an Iron Maiden T Shirt, to  please contact Police on 101, or send a private message on the FB page Appeal for Information Aberdeen Taxi Driver Murder 1983 – George Murdoch. Alternatively, an email can be sent to

Also, on the 11th October, the lead detective on George’s murder case, lead, DI James Callander, appeared again on the programme CrimeWatch to give an update on George’s case.

If you know of an individual, in his 60s or 70s, matching this description, who has been known to wear such a T-Shirt, George Murdoch’s family and the police urge you to come forward if you can help at all.

UPDATE 19.08.2022:

An amazingly generous gesture from Russell McLeod, managing director of Aberdeen’s Rainbow City Taxis means that the Reward for Information in this case now stands at £25,000.
See the full Facebook post below


It was recently the 38th anniversary of George Murdoch’s murder and his family have renewed their appeal for information regarding the murder. There is a reward which has been recently doubled and now stands at £20,000. So, if you were in the Aberdeen area in 1983 or knew anyone who was in the area during this time who might remember something about this horrific murder, then the family would really like to hear from you with any information you may have, however small or insignificant you think it might be, as anything you might know could really help this investigation. One particular detail is regarding cheese wire usage in the area at the time.  Uses for cheesewire may have been dehorning cattle, cutting large blocks of ice in the fishing industry, cutting clay in sculpting or cutting cores in the offshore industry. But do you know of any other uses or professions that haven’t been mentioned, and if so, this would also be valuable information that the police and George Murdoch’s family would love to know about.

Please, if you know anything at all, contact either the Police on 101 in the UK or contact the family directly on their Facebook page at Appeal for Information Aberdeen Taxi Driver Murder 1983 – George Murdoch

If there is anything you or anyone you know remembers from September 1983 in Aberdeen, then this could be invaluable in finding out who murdered George Murdoch, and finally give his family the closure they have been waiting for.

Episode Summary

A taxi driver working in Aberdeen on the night of 29 September 1983 picked up a seemingly harmless fare, but two miles into the journey things took a deadly turn. 

Please Be Advised – This episode may contain content that some may find distressing. As always, we advise listener discretion. This episode it not suitable for anyone under the age of 13.

Listen on:

The Last Fare eBook: McKay, Robina S.: Kindle Store

World Population Review – Aberdeen Population

Wikipedia- Aberdeen

Who was Scotland’s cheese wire killer? The brutal murder of an Aberdeen taxi driver – Daily Record

George Murdoch murder: Dozens of calls about 1983 Aberdeen killing – BBC News

George Murdoch murder: Police remain optimistic about finding 1983 killer – BBC News

George Murdoch – True Crime Library

George Murdoch: Family’s emotional appeal to help trace Aberdeen taxi driver’s killer – Evening Express

Family of murdered Aberdeen taxi driver hope new book will bring ‘cheese wire killer’ to justice 36 years later – Daily Record

Family of ‘Cheese Wire Killer’ victim still seek justice 35 years on | Press and Journal

Cheesewire Killer: Anguished relatives of murdered man in 1980s extend time on their £10,000 reward – Daily Record

Renewed bid to find Aberdeen cheese wire killer 35 years on – BBC News

Nephew of Scots cabbie brutally battered and choked to death in 1983 offers £10,000 to snare ‘Cheesewire Killer’ and solve uncle’s mystery killing

Reward for information about murdered Aberdeen taxi driver extended | Press and Journal

Family of murdered taxi driver George Murdoch publishes book about unsolved case | Press and Journal

Family hopes new book on George Murdoch’s murder will help finally close 36-year-old cold case | Press and Journal

‘Police chiefs to blame for “cheese wire killer” getting away’ | Press and Journal

Blood and Granite: True crime from Aberdeen eBook: Adams, Norman: Kindle Store

10,000 reward to catch murderer who killed taxi driver 31 years ago – Evening Express


If you have any information relating to this case, contact;

101 (UK).

Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 (UK),

Email dedicated inbox at

The Last Fare

by Robina S McKay


Thursday 29th Sept 1983. It had been a miserable, dreich day in Aberdeen and rain was still falling, as taxi driver, George Murdoch, made his way along Queens Rd. Up ahead, he spotted a young guy attempting to flag down a cab. Pulling in for him, he stopped and his passenger climbed into the seat behind him. As he indicated to pull out, George glanced at the clock dial. This would be his last fare of the night. Soon, he’d be heading home to his wife and the warm meal she’d have waiting for him. But George would not make it home that night, nor any other.

His nightmare was only just beginning…………

Our Review


A taxi driver working in Aberdeen on the night of the 29th of September 1983 picked up a seemingly harmless fare, but a few minutes into the journey things took a deadly turn.

Dawn and Cole:

Hi wee ones. I’m Dawn and I’m Cole, and this is Scottish Murders.


George Murdoch, known to his friends and family as Dod, was made redundant in his mid-50s.It was a bit difficult for George to secure another job at this time due to his age and job prospects at the time, but he was determined to find employment. Eventually he decided to give taxi driving a go, it was a good easy way of making some money to pay the bills and take care of himself and his wife Jesse. He and Jesse had been happily married for 37 years, having married when George was 21 years old. George and Jesse sadly never had any children of their own, but they had lots of nieces and nephews who they doted on. They also had become best friends with their neighbours who also had children and they saw them as their grandchildren. George and Jesse had so much love to give. George and Jesse also loved animals and had a dog named Patch, who they adored and spoilt rotten. George also tried his hand at keeping pigeons, but unfortunately his pigeons just weren’t that keen on returning home. This was all well known and often caused a laugh or two. George was described by everyone he knew as being a kind, gentle and friendly man who always had a smile on his face, and himself and Jesse liked nothing more than spending a weekly night out at a local pub with friends and family, laughing and playing bingo. They had a quiet, simple life, but they were very content and happy with each other and looked forward to growing old together. Now when George decided he would start taxi driving, Jesse wasn’t too pleased about this as she was worried for his safety. George however, always the optimist, assured her that it would be okay and that he would never resist a robber, it just wasn’t worth it. George started taxi driving around 1980. He would often be seen in his sky blue Ford Cortina happily driving the locals around, sharing a story or two with them on their journey, and George was very well liked and respected in the local community. On Thursday the 29th of September 1983, George’s taxi shift would have gone as normal, ferrying locals to and from Aberdeen. Aberdeen is a city in the northeast of Scotland and is the third largest city in Scotland, with a population of over 241,000. It is known for its strong ties with the north sea boasting notable fishing and shipping industries, as well as being known as the offshore oil capital of Europe since the 1970s. Aberdeen is also known as the Granite City due to many of the buildings in the city being made from the local grey granite, which sparkles like silver in the sunlight. Thursdays in Aberdeen were late night shopping so it would have been busy. This particular Thursday was cold and the rain was falling heavily. George had been busy all evening and he was at last nearing the end of his shift. About 8.25pm as George was driving along Queens Road, up ahead he would have seen a young man standing on the pavement waving him down. The young man got into the taxi behind George and George pulled away. At 8.28 pm, George radioed the control room and said that he had picked up a fare for Peterculter, which was about six miles or about nine kilometres away. Then, for some reason, about two miles or about three kilometres into the journey, George turned his taxi into Pitfodels Station Road, which was about four miles or six kilometres short of the supposed destination. This street is about four miles west of Aberdeen city centre, it is quiet and dimly lit and runs all the way down to Garthdee Road, starting on a steep slope and going downwards as you turn into it. It would have been at this point that his passenger, who had been quietly sitting behind George, placed a steel cheese wire around his neck. It cut deeply into George’s neck and he would have panicked and probably initially froze in shock. However, this didn’t last long and he started fighting for his life, somehow managing to get the cheese wire away from his neck and get out of the taxi. However, the attacker was on top of him straight away and was stronger than him, younger than him, and before George could do anything else the attacker’s hands were around his neck and squeezing… hard. George would have fought hard but inevitably there was nothing he could do. With George slowly slipping into unconsciousness, the attacker grabbed his wallet and what little money George had in his taxi and fled the scene, leaving George fatally wounded and dying. God that’s awful. He must have been terrified. The first officers on the scene were dog handler PC Alan Hendry and a young officer who had been doing dog training exercises nearby that night, and so arrived on the scene quickly. George was lying in a pool of blood with severe injuries to his head, face and neck, and was barely alive when the first police officers arrived. After calling for backup PC Hendry stayed with George until the paramedics arrived, who then lifted George into the ambulance. Even though the paramedics did their best to save George, he died at the scene shortly after their arrival. He was 58 years old.


He really didn’t deserve that.


Nobody would have deserved that. Following the murder the street was quickly cordoned off by the police and a murder investigation was launched. Over the next week or so extensive searches of the area were carried out, as well as police visiting 10,000 homes and 8,000 statements being taken, however, after all of this the only thing found connected to the murder and murderer was a cheese wire or a garrotte wire, which had been found near the scene. Now, there had been witnesses to the attack on George, two teenage cyclists were on their way home and were cycling up the slope and spotted George’s taxi facing down the hill with the lights on. As they’d passed they had seen George being pinned down by the murderer on the ground outside of his taxi and being strangled.


Did they not do anything?


Well they were just teenagers so they were probably terrified, but they did cycle immediately to the nearest phone box and they called the police. The police had received this call just after 9pm and had radioed for a police officer to attend, with PC Alan Hendry being the nearest and showing attending. The two boys told the police that the attacker was thin built, in his late 20s to early 30s, with very dark hair. A couple out for a walk that evening in the area also reported to the police that they had seen a man running 200 yards from the scene. Apparently this was just moments after the teenagers had witnessed the fight. They gave a description of the man as being a thin man, roughly five foot seven inches, aged late twenties to early thirties, with short, dark, well-groomed hair that sat over his ears. Another witness had apparently seen a man matching this description running towards Aberdeen about five minutes later. Now about three weeks after the murder the staff in a chip shop in Great Western Road in Mannofield, which was about a mile and just under two kilometres from the murder scene, came forward and said that about 15 minutes after the murder a man matching the description came into the chip shop and ordered a fish supper.


Did you say it took them three weeks to come forward?


Yeah, I did. Apparently, at the time, they had not connected the murder that had happened just along the road from them to this man being in their chip shop.


You would think that they would be able to connect the two a little bit quicker as it was a local murder.


Yeah, exactly. They also said that this man had blood dripping from a hand injury and scratches on his cheek and nose, and a bruise was developing on one of his eyes, and that he spoke with a local accent.


If I owned a chip shop and a man came in with blood dripping from his hands, scratches on his cheek and nose and a bruise on his face, I think I’d call the police regardless.


Apparently, as well there was actually six customers in the chip shop that night, but only one man was ever traced.


Six people and only one person came forward? That’s crazy.


Yeah, exactly. And it was a popular theory by the locals that this man was the actual killer, but the police didn’t believe that.


Yeah, I guess I can understand that. I mean, I doubt that you’re committing a horrible murder and then going to pick up a bag of chips.


I think the staff in the chip shop had probably just thought that this man had been in a fight or that had been drinking and had fallen over and he was just getting his fish supper and then heading home.


Yeah. I mean, I can understand that, but it is a bit of a coincidence isn’t it?


It is a bit, and I do wish that they’d come forwards a bit sooner. However, the man in the chip shop has never been found and the theory’s just been ruled out. Shortly after the murder, the police also carried out a high-profile inquiry where they attended Pittodrie Stadium in Aberdeen when Aberdeen was playing Celtic, where they checked the hands of every male aged between 16 and 30 for damage, which would indicate this may be the killer. Apparently they saw this as an ideal opportunity where they could check a large number of males hands for any wounds. If the killer was going to a game and saw the police wouldn’t he just turn around and go home? Well, no, because the large police presence was only obvious once the supporters reached the turnstiles, by which time it would be too late to turn around and leave for fear of drawing attention to yourself. The police reported that everyone attending the game was extremely cooperative, however, the police had not anticipated that so many people would attend the game with cuts on their hands. After checking out all the people that had cuts on their hands and their stories, unfortunately no further leads were generated. Now, the cheese wire found at the scene was a potential clue to the identity of the killer, due to being able to narrow down the search possibly depending on the work a person did, however, cheese wire was used for a variety of things at the time, such as obviously cutting cheese, it was also used by oil workers for cutting core samples, by pottery makers, those in the fish industry, also used for removing windscreens from vehicles, and even apparently used for cutting through the horns on cattle, so there were quite a few uses for cheese wire. So, do you know anyone back in September 1983 working in any of these industries who perhaps had cuts and bruises on their face and hands? Or were you expecting anyone to come to your home that night that worked in any of these industries that didn’t turn up? Over the years the police have carried on following different lines of inquiry and there have been appeals from the family, but there just hasn’t been enough information or leads to track down this evil killer. Now, while it has never been determined exactly why George was killed, his wallet and money were stolen, the murderer could have been someone addicted to drink or drugs looking for easy money. If this was a robbery gone seriously wrong it is poignant to note that if the killer had just asked then George would have handed over the money no questions, as he always told his wife Jesse that he would do this. However, this was an extreme and excessively violent attack just to have been a robbery gone terribly wrong. Why was this man carrying a cheese wire with him in the first place? Did he use this for work? George was a very mild-mannered, gentle man who most certainly would not have antagonised the killer in any way for him to have attacked George so savagely. Did this man have anger problems? Or did this man simply decide that this was the night when he would cruelly take an innocent taxi driver’s life, and it didn’t matter who it was. This evil man would be approaching his seventies now and has enjoyed a life, which has been denied to George and his family. Now, when someone is murdered so horrifically you sometimes focus on the awful murder and forget about the family left behind having to find a way through. One person left behind after George’s murder was his wife Jesse. Jesse never recovered from the horrific murder of her beloved husband, her world had been turned upside down on the evening the police had come to her home to tell her the news about George’s murder. She loved George, they had plans for when George retired, but more than that they just looked forward to spending more time together. It was not just George’s life that had been taken that night. Jesse was a slight figure and after the murder she lost weight leading to her becoming frail. Over the years Jesse suffered many strokes and her legs started to get weak, which led to weakness and frailty. So much so that she eventually wasn’t able to go out on her own. Jesse did have huge support from her sisters, brother, nieces and nephews and the wonderful neighbours who lived next door, who she and George had become so close with. Jesse lived for another 21 years, dying in 2004 at the age of 76. In early 2015, George’s family issued another appeal and this time offered a £10,000, just under $14,000,

reward for any information that could lead to the conviction of George’s murderer. Again, some information was given to the police, but still not the lead or information that they would need to find the killer that had thus far evaded justice. Now, the investigation so far sounded like the police had been doing everything they could to try and find George’s killer via appeals, inquiries, witness statements etc, however, on the 17th of April 2017, 33 years after the murder, former police officer and the first police officer on the horrific scene in 1983 Alan Hendry, who went on to become an Aberdeenshire councillor, came forward to claim that he felt his superiors missed the opportunity to catch the killer quickly, close the case and give the family closure. The former police officer has always questioned just how well the searches were conducted at the time. He felt that he had been sent on a wild goose chase at the time while the killer was nearby watching the investigation unfold. He explains that after his superiors arrived he was told to take his German Shepherd to Peterculter, which is approximately 10 miles or 16 kilometres away, and to walk back along the old railway line, through the pouring rain back towards the scene of the killing. However, PC Hendry believed that the killer was actually hiding in a nearby field watching what was unfolding. By going through this field it would eventually take you out at the railway line. PC Henry believed if he had been allowed to do his job and search the immediate area he would have found the killer that night. PC Hendry was so convinced of the failings of the officer in charge on that night that the next day, once it had stopped raining, he took his German Shepherd back to the crime scene and let him loose in the field. Apparently, the dog indicated an area of ground in the field behind an embankment right on the edge of the Pidfodels Station road where somebody had been lying.


Yeah, but that could have just been someone having a nosy at what was going on, unrelated to the attack at all.


Exactly. But as it’s been quite a number of years ago now we’ll never know for sure. Police Scotland didn’t comment specifically on these allegations, but they did say that they remain committed to solving unsolved murders, they are regularly reviewed and any forensic techniques are used to assist in this. On the 27th of September 2018, which would have been the 35th anniversary of George’s death, Detective Inspector Gary Winter from the Major Investigation Team organised a major media appeal in the hope that it might reach someone that had information about this case that hadn’t come forward yet. He advised that the team would be reviewing the case, reinterviewing the witnesses who saw the assault, and that the most advanced forensic techniques available would be used. He informed that the killer would be approaching his late 60s or early 70s by now. Detective Inspector Winter also stated that the cheese wire found at the scene had been used in the attack and a photograph of an identical cheese wire was also released at this time. Also at this appeal, a photograph was released that showed George and Jesse at their nephew’s wedding in 1977, and I have put both of these photos on the website. George’s nephew, Alex 61, who was 26 years old when his uncle was murdered, also spoke on behalf of the family at this appeal. Alex reiterated that the £10,000 or just under $14,000 reward was still being made available by the family for any information that resulted in the arrest of the person responsible. He spoke of memories he had of George, talked about George’s wife Jesse, and asked that people think back to 1983 and come forward with any information they might remember to the police. And what followed from the public was incredible, the police received over 100 calls and emails, and they were still being contacted by individuals in the following months. It just goes to show that despite the passage of time people still remember the tragic night George was murdered and desperately want to help give the family the closure they deserve. However promising it is that the police have received such a response to the appeal in 2018 and the advanced techniques that can be used, George’s murderer has still not been identified. Following this appeal, Alex, George and Jesse’s nephew, continued to speak out about the couple in the hopes of raising awareness and triggering a memory in somebody that could possibly lead to the arrest of George’s killer. Alex still remembers receiving the call from his mother at 11pm on the night of George’s murder breaking the news to him. He was badly shaken, and recalls that for many weeks after the murder the whole family was in turmoil and shock over the horrific senseless killing of their kind, gentle, always smiling Dod. He went on to say that Jesse had the kindest soul and she was deeply affected by the murder. She was scared being in her own home as the murderer had taken George’s wallet and she was afraid that this evil man would know her address and come to her home. She had thought about moving maybe to somewhere smaller, but this thought quickly was dismissed as she had so many memories of George in the house, there was no way she could leave. Alex said that apparently Jesse never really talked about what happened that night, possibly she was trying to protect her family from the horror and pain but they all felt it nonetheless. In April 2020, it was revealed that Robina McKay, who is the wife of George and Jesse’s nephew Alex, was in the process of writing a book as she wanted to tell Jesse’s story following the murder to hopefully strike a chord in people and allow insight into exactly what this heinous crime had done to George’s wife. This book is called The Last Fare and can be bought on paperback or Kindle from Amazon. I’ve actually read this book and it was told beautifully, it really made Jesse and George into real people and told of their time together, giving an insight into their thoughts. You were able to see them as a loving couple and not just victims of something absolutely horrendous. I’d really recommend this book. Alex has said that now all of George’s closest relatives have passed away, it is really down to Alex and his family to try to keep George’s story in the limelight and catch George’s killer, before Alex passes too. Hopefully one day soon someone will come forward with that one missing piece of information, who killed George Murdoch. As of this episode being released, there have still been no further developments, despite the many appeals for information over the years. If you’re listening to this episode and you think you might have information about this case that you haven’t shared with the police, no matter how small, please contact 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. Or alternatively you can email a dedicated inbox at And hopefully George Murdoch’s killer can finally be brought to justice. All of these contact details will be put on our website.

And that’s the end. If you’ve enjoyed this episode and know just the person who’d also like it, please share it with them,  don’t keep it to yourself.


Please also get in touch on social media if you have any questions, comments or suggestions and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. All social media and contact details are on our website, as well as all the source material and photos related to this episode.


So that’s it for this week, come back next time for another episode of Scottish Murders.

Dawn and Cole:

Join us there, Bye!

Granny Robertson:

Scottish Murders is a production of Cluarantonn.

Scottish Murders is a production of Cluarantonn

Hosted by Dawn and Cole

Researched and Written by Dawn Young

Produced and Edited by Dawn Young and Peter Bull

Production Company Name by Granny Robertson


Dawn of the Fairies by Derek & Brandon Fiechter

Gothic Wedding by Derek & Brandon Fiechter

The Karen Buckley Murder

The Karen Buckley Murder

Episode Summary

In April 2015, Irish nurse Karen had arrived in Glasgow a few months earlier to study at Caledonia University.  Taking some time out from studying, Karen was on a night out at a nightclub with her university friends.  Just before 1am she said goodnight to her friends and left the nightclub, she was never seen alive again.

Please Be Advised – This episode may contain content that some may find distressing. As always, we advise listener discretion. This episode it not suitable for anyone under the age of 13.

Listen on:

Google Maps – Glasgow

Glasgow Tourism and Visitor Plan

Judge calls Karen Buckley’s murder a ‘brutal, motiveless attack on a defenceless young woman’

Timeline Of Karen Buckley’s Murder | News – Clyde 2

Karen Buckley: Man arrested over student’s death – BBC News

Karen Buckley death: Man, 21, charged with murder of trainee nurse – Daily Star

Karen Buckley murder: Alexander Pacteau jailed for life – BBC News

Karen Buckley murder: Watch killer reveal moment he first laid eyes on student nurse – Mirror Online

Karen Buckley murder: Alexander Pacteau jailed for at least 23 years | UK news | The Guardian

Karen Buckley: One year on, what we know about her brutal murder in Glasgow and the questions that were never answered | The Irish Post

Karen Buckley murder: Alexander Pacteau admits murdering student who disappeared from Glasgow club in savage spanner attack – Daily Record

Karen Buckley murder – Mirror Online

Karen Buckley killer Alexander Pacteau’s mum says apology to victim’s family ‘would not be enough’ – Mirror Online

Karen Buckley killer Alexander Pacteau’s mother told him to drop life sentence appeal ‘out of respect’ – Daily Record

Karen Buckley murder: Police release chilling images which helped catch evil killer Alexander Pacteau – Daily Record

Karen Buckley murder: Timeline of events | The Scotsman

Karen Buckley: Timeline of disappearance and death

Timeline: The Karen Buckley murder case

Karen Buckley murder: Alexander Pacteau pleads guilty to killing Irish student in Glasgow | UK | News |

Karen Buckley murder: Man admits ‘evil’ killing of Irish student in Glasgow – BBC News

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

Karen Buckley murder: Alexander Pacteau admits brutal killing of Irish student nurse in Glasgow –

Family of murdered Karen Buckley thank ‘˜very many people’ for support | Belfast News Letter

Police fear Karen Buckley’s evil murderer Pacteau had ‘stalked other women’ –

Karen Buckley murderer Pacteau gets life, with a minimum sentence of 23 years

Memorial mass to mark one year since murder of Karen Buckley – STV News

Twisted killer jailed for life for ‘motiveless’ murder of student Karen Buckley – Daily Star

Karen Buckley murder: what we know now –

Man pleads guilty to Karen Buckley murder | UK news | The Guardian

Alexander Pacteau admits brutal murder of student Karen Buckley | ITV News

Man Admits Murder Of Karen Buckley – Heart Scotland

Karen was ‘our little angel’ – BBC News

Karen Buckley missing: Fears grow for student nurse who vanished after night out with pals – Mirror Online

Karen Buckley killer Alexander Pacteau’s mum says family are “devastated” by his crime – Mirror Online

Karen Buckley: How Alexander Pacteau killed her and tried to destroy her body

Alexander Pacteau family friend reveals details of Karen Buckley’s depraved killer’s childhood | Glasgow Times

Alex Pacteau: The making of the evil monster who murdered Karen Buckley – Irish Mirror Online

‘My son is innocent’, says mother whose son was seen talking to Karen on CCTV

Karen Buckley: More than £50,000 raised in 24 hours to support family of tragic student – Daily Record

Karen Buckley funeral: Hundreds mourn “utterly inappropriate” death | UK | News |

Monster Alexander Pacteau who killed Karen Buckley flogs painkillers to drug-dealing lags for bottles of COKE at HMP Kilmarnock

Monster killer Alexander Pacteau moved jail after riot over drug checks

Monster Alexander Pacteau who killed student nurse Karen Buckley in Glasgow guzzles protein shakes and pumps iron in jail in a bid to get fit – The Scottish Sun

Cork nurse murderer Alexander Pacteau moved to new jail for being ringleader in prison riot

Alexander Pacteau: What drove the middle-class public schoolboy to kill Karen Buckley |

24 year old Irish nurse Karen Buckley had moved to Glasgow in February 2015 to study occupational therapy. She had been on a night out in Glasgow with her friends, but was later seen on CCTV walking along the street with a man. Karen’s body was found four days later.


Hi Wee Ones! I’m Cole, and I’m Dawn, and this is Scottish Murders.


Cole: There are a few French names coming up, I’ve tried to look at how to pronounce them, but if I do get them wrong I do apologise. Alexander Benjamin Pacteau was born in 1994 to well off parents, Noreen and Guillaume Pacteau. His French father owned a successful courier business, while his Scottish mother stayed at home and raised Pacteau and his young sister and two younger brothers. From as early as four or five, a family friend revealed that Pacteau came across as a troubled child. He was very obnoxious, threw tantrums and constantly sought attention with his non-stop bad behaviour. He was apparently often referred to as trouble. The family were said to have lived in a plush house in the wealthy Bearsden area, which is 5.7 miles and about 9 kilometres northwest of Glasgow. Pacteau initially attended Balljaffray primary school located north of Bearsden, before later attending Kelvinside Academy, which is a private school in the west end of Glasgow. He attended this school as a teenager. The fees at this school were up to £12,000 a year, which is about $16,500. It was said that this move to a private school was in a bid to keep Pacteau on the straight and narrow. Unfortunately, before he could finish his schooling at Kelvinside Academy, his father’s business went bust and Pacteau ended up attending Bearsden Academy, which was a state school. Due to his private schooling his teachers expected him to be a bright student, however, he was described as an unremarkable student. He apparently had only a small circle of friends, was socially awkward and unpopular with girls. Despite his good start in life and his private education in 2011, he ended up dropping out of school when he was 17 years old so he could start his own courier firm. He attended a business course in Anniesland College, but within months he had dropped out of this too. It was shortly after he had dropped out of college that Pacteau began to show signs of what was lurking beneath. In November 2011, Pacteau was accused of attacking a 24 year old woman. After a night out in Glasgow, he allegedly approached a woman outside of a nightclub and gained her trust into sharing a taxi with him. As the two started walking to try and get a taxi, he had allegedly pushed her into an alley, forced her to the ground, put his hand over her mouth and carried out a sexual act on her, before trying to get her to carry out a sexual act on him. It was alleged at this point when he took his hand away from her mouth that she was able to scream, which alerted two men nearby who were on a balcony, and they rushed to her aid. Pacteau denied the charges of attempted rape and sexual assault, and at Paisley Court in 2013 he was cleared by a majority verdict. While the woman was devastated that he had been found not guilty, she felt strongly that she would be hearing his name again. Also in 2013, Pacteau’s parents split up and Pacteau went to live with his mother in Drymen, which is about 12 miles or 19 kilometres from where Pacteau grew up. Unfortunately, this didn’t work out and he eventually went to live with his father and his father’s new partner. Apparently he didn’t get on with his father’s new partner and there was some tension, so much so that his father grew tired of it and kicked Pacteau out. Pacteau then found himself a flat share in the Drumchapel area of Glasgow, which is about two miles, which is about three kilometres, away from where he grew up in Bearsden, with two other women. During this time he stopped socialising and fell into a pit of despair at his failure to get a girlfriend. He would frequently talk about sex in front of his female flatmates and talk about having heard them having sex. It got to a point where they didn’t want to be in the flat alone with him. He also struggled to find work, and when he did he rarely lasted long in the job.  However, he frequently stated that he was going to be a millionaire, and in 2014 he had clearly been giving it a good go when he was charged with forging around £6,000, which is about $8,000, in fake banknotes. The fake notes were seized and in May 2014 he was sentenced to carry out 225 hours of community service. Pacteau had been relieved to have dodged a prison sentence and was determined to turn his life around, and so went on a crash diet and joined a gym in a bid to get in shape, lose weight and change his fortunes. In February 2015 he found himself a new flat share in the Kelvinside area of Glasgow, again with a woman, and in April, a mere three months later, his life did take a dramatic turn, but not in the way anyone would have expected. Karen Buckley lived in Mourneabbey, Country Cork, Ireland, which has a population of approximately 1,000 people. Karen lived on a farm with her dad John, her mum Marian and her three older brothers; Brendan, Damian and Kieran. On finishing her final year of secondary school, Karen then attended University of Limerick, where she graduated with a nursing degree. As much as Karen loved her parish and missed her family and friends terribly, Karen felt that there were more opportunities for her over the water in the United Kingdom, and so following graduating, Karen secured a nursing placement at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Essex where she worked for a couple of years. However, as much as Karen loved her nursing job and worked hard, she also thoroughly enjoyed life and wanted to travel the world. Karen was fortunate enough to have visited both Thailand and South Africa and she loved the experience. She had the travel bug and had decided that she wanted to see more of the world. Like any mum and dad, her parents were concerned about Karen being abroad as a single woman, but they knew she was such a sensible girl and knew how to keep herself safe. Karen was so outgoing and fun-loving and everybody wanted to be around her, she made plenty of friends wherever she went. As well as traveling, Karen also loved to learn and develop new skills, so in February 2015 Karen moved to Glasgow where she was a first-year student studying occupational therapy at Glasgow Caledonia University. A few of Karen’s friends had student flats in Garnethill Street in Glasgow, which was about a 14-minute walk from the university she was attending, and so Karen also acquired a flat in Garnethill Street to be close to her friends. Karen loved Glasgow and was welcomed there as one of their own. Glasgow is situated in Scotland’s western lowlands and, according to Glasgow Tourism and Visitor Plan website, it is one of the world’s top five cities for hosting sporting events, the world’s leading festival and event destination and Scotland’s cultural and sporting centre, home to the largest annual cultural offering and largest sporting infrastructure outside of London. The people of Glasgow are well known for being extremely friendly, kind, warm, welcoming and having a great sense of humour. This might have been one of the many reasons Karen decided to attend Glasgow Caledonia University to continue her studies. Karen had a pretty uneventful couple of months after starting at university; attending lectures and enjoying spending her down time with her friends, that was until a chance meeting on a night out with friends in April.

Dawn: It was Saturday the 11th of April 2015 and in Garnethill Street 24 year old Karen and three friends, who also lived in flats in Garnethill Street, were in Karen’s flat listening to music, having a few drinks and getting ready to head to the Sanctuary Nightclub in Dumbarton Road, Glasgow. A taxi arrived at Garnethill Street to take the girls to the nightclub at about 11:30pm that evening, and Karen and her friends were seen arriving at the nightclub about 11:45pm, queuing for 20 minutes outside before finally getting let in. They then headed to the bar to get drinks and continue enjoying their night. Also getting ready for a night out at the popular Sanctuary Nightclub that night were 21 year old Pacteau and seven of his friends. Pacteau and his friends had arranged to meet at Pacteau’s flat in Dorchester Avenue for some drinks, before heading out. Two taxis were booked to take Pacteau and his friends to the Sanctuary, however only one turned up. Therefore Pacteau decided to drive himself and two of his friends to the nightclub in his Ford Focus and he parked it about 100 meters away, which is roughly 300 feet, from the nightclub. CCTV shows that Pacteau and his friends enter the Sanctuary Nightclub at 11:38pm, and head to a booth that the party had booked. This was six minutes before Karen would arrive with her friends. Karen and Pacteau didn’t know each other, they’d never met, were not acquaintances, were not friends online and didn’t have any mutual friends. They were complete strangers. It is also believed that neither Karen or Pacteau came into contact with each other at all while inside the Sanctuary. They both just separately seemed to be enjoying their nights out. However, about an hour later that would all change as their fates were intertwined. Karen had been having a good night, but just before 1am she said to her friends that she was going to head home and that she’d see them later that day for a catch-up. The friends were a bit concerned about Karen walking home alone, but she told them she would be fine, she’d get a taxi and for them not to worry. Karen had had a few drinks but she was by no means drunk, so they agreed for her to make her way home alone. She then said bye and headed for the exit of the Sanctuary Nightclub. A few minutes earlier, Pacteau was seen on CCTV leaving the nightclub briefly, before going back inside for a few minutes. And then just before 1am he left the nightclub again and this time crossed the road and was seen on CCTV walking up and down the pavement opposite the nightclub. Then at 1am, Karen is seen on CCTV leaving the nightclub, crossing the road and walking straight into Pacteau’s path, where he is still walking up and down on the opposite side of the road. Karen and Pacteau are seen on CCTV having a brief conversation, before the pair walk off in the direction of where Pacteau’s car is parked not far away. It is thought that perhaps he had offered her a lift home. This was the last time Karen was seen alive. Karen’s flatmates had had a good time while at the nightclub and were probably a bit worse for ware, and so it wasn’t until between 12noon and 1pm on the Sunday afternoon, after they had tried repeatedly to get an answer at Karen’s flat as her mobile phone was either switched off or had run out of charge, that they finally raised the alarm and contacted Police Scotland to report Karen missing, as they had a feeling by this time that something was terribly wrong. Karen was usually so reliable and would never just disappear without a word, if she had been going anywhere she would have either called or text to let her friends know where she was. Upon Police Scotland receiving the phone call reporting Karen Buckley missing, detectives immediately treated her disappearance as a high-risk missing person inquiry. Following speaking with her friends, who told them Karen had left the Sanctuary Nightclub alone, detectives were quick to request CCTV footage from the nightclub from the night before and early hours of the morning, to see if it could provide any insight into Karen’s movements. And they were quick to learn that it very well could. The CCTV footage showed Karen and her friends arriving at the Sanctuary Nightclub and then Karen leaving the club at about 1am, and having an interaction with a man she then walked off with. Unfortunately, there was no footage of where the two had gone, but the CCTV footage was clear enough so this was a good start. Police Scotland made an appeal asking for anyone who had seen Karen in the early hours of Sunday morning to come forward, asking for information on who the man with Karen was from the footage, as well as any information on a grey Ford Focus car that had been seen traveling in the Milngavie or Drymen areas between 11am and 3pm on Monday the 13th of April. Detectives described Karen at this time as being white, between five foot to five foot two inches, with dark hair and brown eyes. She had been wearing an all-in-one black jumpsuit with red high heels, and a black handbag, and she spoke in an Irish accent. By Monday, while there had been information on sightings of Karen, detectives had a name to go with the face of the man Karen was seen last talking to, Alexander Pacteau. Detectives also established that Pacteau was the owner of a grey Ford Focus. Detectives visited Pacteau’s flat in Dorchester Avenue to attempt to speak to him, but on their first visit there was no one at home. However, upon calling at his flat again about 6pm, he opened the door and said “I was just coming to see you.”

Cole: Oh I wonder what he was going to say.

Dawn: Well, he invites the detectives into his flat, where a strong smell of bleach is immediately noticed.

Cole:  Oh that’s not a good sign.

Dawn: The detectives take a look through the flat and notice a few other odd things in his bedroom, such as a toolbox, a roll of parcel tape, nail brushes, and also that the mattress doesn’t fit his bed.

Cole: I maybe could understand a toolbox, the parcel tape, maybe nail brushes, are these things odd to have in your flat? He shares his flat, right?

Dawn: Yeah, he does share a flat.

Cole: So, he could be just worried about things going missing. But the mattress doesn’t fit his bed? That’s just really odd, isn’t it?

Dawn: Yeah, that is a bit strange.

Cole: How often do you see someone with a bed that they’ve got the wrong sized mattress?

Cole: Yeah, I agree it is a bit strange, and I guess the detectives thought that as well. Anyway. So, the detectives asked Pacteau about his movements the night before and the early hours of the morning, and this is when he tells them what he was coming to see them about. He says that, yes, he had met Karen outside the Sanctuary Nightclub, purely by chance, and they had come back to his flat, but that she’d left around 4am. The detectives then asked Pacteau if he would come to the station to give them a statement, which he agreed to do. Once at the police station Pacteau’s earlier statement to detectives began to change, and not for the last time. He stated again how, yes, Karen had returned to his flat, that they had had a couple of drinks and had consensual sex, however, this time he states that Karen had hit her head on the bed frame, before leaving his flat at 4am. He said that he hadn’t realised she was bleeding until he saw the blood on the bedsheets earlier in the morning, after she had gone. Pacteau continues by saying that once he saw the missing person appeal for information about Karen’s whereabouts, and saw he was the man that was shown on the CCTV outside the Sanctuary Nightclub talking to Karen, he said he panicked because he knew he was probably the last person to have seen her alive, and so he had taken the blood stained mattress and some of his clothes to High Craigton Farm and burned them, and he purchased a new ill-fitting mattress. As you do. Yeah. So, you were right, there was something wrong, there was something sinister about the mattress being the wrong size. If I walk into a gentleman’s home and the mattress doesn’t fit the bed, I’m walking straight back out. (laughs) Anyway, while Pacteau was at the police station he agreed to have his clothes searched, and what the police found in his trouser pocket made the detectives even more suspicious of Pacteau. He had a receipt for drain unblocker and sodium hydroxide.

Cole: Sodium hydroxide, that is also known as lye, isn’t it? Or caustic soda? It breaks down proteins at room temperature and it can cause severe burns, is that right?

Dawn: Yeah, that’s right. You wouldn’t want that spilt on you that’s for sure.

Cole: Definitely not.

Dawn: So, following Pacteau’s statement being taken, and given what was found in his trouser pockets, the police were deeply suspicious of his version of events, and so they cordoned his flat off and began to forensically search and examine it. Pacteau was free to go at this time but, due to his flat now being forensically searched, he advised detectives that he would be spending the night at a Holiday Inn hotel in Glasgow. Forensic teams worked through the night and about 4aam Pacteau’s grey Ford Focus was removed from outside his flat and taken to be forensically searched also. When Karen was first reported missing, Police Scotland had contacted her parents in County Cork to advise them that Karen was missing, and her parents made the decision to fly to Glasgow to try and find out what had happened to their daughter. Back in Ireland, Karen’s former classmates at Limerick University set up a fundraising page to help support the family with their travel and expenses while in Glasgow, as well as to help support the upkeep of their farm in Cork. The page was only open for 24 hours and in that time they had raised £50,000, which is about $69,000.

Cole: That’s amazing!

Dawn: That’s a lot of money. Some people called for it to be reopened again as they too wanted to donate.

Cole: A press conference was held at the police station on Tuesday the 14th of April at about 2pm. Karen’s parents, John and Marian, made an appeal asking for any information on their daughter’s whereabouts saying that they were desperate for her to come home safely. During this appeal police revealed that they had traced the man seen talking to Karen on CCTV and he was helping them with their inquiries, but Detective Superintendent Jim Kerr stressed that he was not a suspect. They also revealed that Karen’s handbag had been discovered in Dawsholm Park, which is around a three minute drive from Pacteau’s flat at Dorchester Avenue. Apparently Karen’s handbag had been found at 7am on Sunday the 12th of April by a member of the public, but they had not actually handed the bag into the police until 1:40pm on Tuesday, after hearing the appeal for information on Karen’s whereabouts. That took them a long time, no rush. I don’t actually know why it took so long, but it was probably just a case that they hadn’t had a chance to take it to the police station yet, but they did it as soon as they heard about the appeal. Karen’s handbag had been found near a rubbish bin in Dawsholm Park. along with her mobile phone and a passport. Following this discovery being reported, a huge police search was mounted at the park, which included search helicopters and sniffer dogs. The search in Dawsholm Park and at Pacteau’s flat continued until Wednesday. The location where Karen’s handbag had been found further raised suspicion about Pacteau’s story of Karen leaving his flat at 4am. If Karen was heading back to her own flat in Garnethill Street, she would have walked in the opposite direction of Dawsholm Park. So another thing that detectives had to think about. And then on Wednesday the 15th of April, police released a statement saying that through the evidence that they had been able to collect, a 21 year old man had been detained for questioning in connection with Karen’s disappearance, and that man was Alexander Pacteau. Apparently the police had found Pacteau at a Starbucks at 1:55pm in Glasgow City Centre and had brought him to Helen Street police station for questioning. This came after swabs taken from Pacteau’s flat confirmed traces of Karen’s blood within the property and police feeling confident that they had enough evidence to treat Pacteau as a suspect. When Pacteau was searched in the police station this time police found a handwritten note on Holiday Inn notepaper which outlined what he’d said to the police when he had made a witness statement on the 13th of April. Clearly he was trying to remember what he had originally said. Following the police releasing the statement that Pacteau had been detained in connection with Karen’s disappearance, just over an hour later, a former colleague of Pacteau’s rang the police station and reported that Pacteau had previously used storage units at High Craigton Farm, which is just outside Milngavie, and that he also drove a grey car, which the police had previously put out an appeal for any information about, but at this point they already knew about the car. This information was gold for the detectives working on the case and they immediately headed to High Craigton Farm, arriving there about 3:30pm, within 30 minutes of receiving the tip. So, remembering that they had found a receipt in Pacteau’s trouser pocket showing that he’d bought padlocks recently, the officers began by searching sheds or units that had new padlocks on them, until they finally found the right one.

Dawn: While police continued to treat Karen as a missing person, they did have deep suspicions that there was foul play, especially after they had finally spoken to Pacteau and taken his initial witness statement, things just weren’t adding up. So, they had begun the huge task of tracking Pacteau’s movements from the point when he walked out of the CCTV footage with Karen still very much alive. They collected and analysed a massive amount of CCTV footage, and finally a clear picture started to emerge. The police also requested records of his mobile phone usage as well as his bank records, and following viewing these records their suspicions were further aroused, because it showed that on Sunday morning not only did Pacteau search on his phone to find out the chemical properties of sodium hydroxide but he also made some rather odd purchases, such as buying over six litres of caustic soda from different shops, drain unblocker, a mask and gloves. And then on Monday he bought a lighter, lighter fluid, white spirits and two padlocks. Further to this, also on Monday the 13th of April at 8:34am, Pacteau rang a storage equipment supplier and ordered a 220 litre blue barrel, which he promptly collected.

Cole: Back at High Craigtonn Farm on Wednesday the 15th of April, armed with all of this information, when police opened a storage unit and find a blue barrel hidden under a sheet, a paper shredder and a bicycle wheel, they stopped dead in their tracks. Could Karen be inside the barrel? As they knew that Pacteau had bought sodium hydroxide, they had waited for a fire service to deem the barrel safe to be examined. Finally, at 8pm on Wednesday the 15th of April, the police were able to open the barrel, and sadly need not search any further. They had found Karen’s body, naked and partially submerged in sodium hydroxide. The barrel with Karen’s body inside was removed and taken to Southern General Hospital in Glasgow, where a post-mortem examination was carried out. It was revealed that Karen had suffered a number of soft tissue injuries to her neck and had received a series of heavy blows to her head, later revealed to have been about 12 or 13, which had fractured her skull and led to a subdural haemorrhage. She also had defensive wounds on her arms and hands. At 3:40am on Thursday the 16th of April 2015, just over four days after Karen was last seen, Alexander Pacteau was arrested by police for the murder of Karen Buckley. With evidence mounting against Pacteau, and Karen’s body now having been found, when police questioned him, his story changed yet again. Of course it did. He now said that they had gone back to his flat and during consensual sex she had hit her head on the bed frame. She had then became angry and had slapped him, and so he had reached for the nearest item to hand, which had been a spanner, and began hitting her over the head. How, who, how many people are keeping spanners in their bedroom do you think?

Dawn: (laughs)

Cole: Do you want to know something though?

Dawn: What?

Cole: I’ve got a high heel under my bed.

Dawn: (laughs) Aye, of course you have Cole. (laughs) That’s almost worse than a spanner.

Cole: Well, it’s not actually. Do you want to know why?

Dawn: (laughs) Uh-huh.

Cole: Because if someone was to attack you in your own home, and you hit them with something like a spanner, that’s going to be seen as, um, premeditated, cause you’ve put that spanner under your bed to attack someone if they’ve come to your home. Whereas if you have a high heel under your bed, something that could be in your bedroom…

Dawn: Only you would think like that Cole.

Cole: It’s not just me, loads of people think it. Where do you think I got the idea from?

Dawn (laughs) Anyway. (laughs)

Cole: Yes?

Dawn: Anyway. As the police continue to question Pacteau to try and get the truth out of him, a press conference is held where Detective Superintendent Jim Kerr confirmed that the body of Karen Buckley had been found and that her family had been made aware of the discovery. He confirmed that they had arrested a 21 year old man in connection with Karen’s murder, and that the man would be appearing in court the following day. A statement was also read out by Detective Superintendent Kerr from John Buckley on behalf of Karen’s family, and it read “Marian and I, together with our sons Brendan Kieran and Damian, are absolutely heartbroken. Karen was our only daughter, cherished by her family and loved by her friends. 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.” That’s so sad. On Friday the 17th of April at 3pm, Pacteau appeared at a private hearing at Glasgow Sheriff Court where he was formally charged with Karen’s murder, as well as attempting to defeat the ends of justice. He made no plea or declaration and was remanded in custody.

Cole: Just two hours later in George Square in Glasgow, hundreds of people, including Karen’s mum and dad, attended a vigil that had been organised, where a piper played and people sang both Scottish and Irish songs while mourners laid flowers, before a minute silence was carried out. Karen’s parents, John and Marian, then headed home to Cork with their daughter’s body to undertake the devastating task of arranging her funeral.

Dawn: Regardless of the stack of evidence Police Scotland had against Pacteau, they did not rest on their laurels, they continued with their investigation. Having obtained and checked CCTV footage from a variety of commercial premises in the northwest of Glasgow, detectives were able to ultimately map out Pacteau’s movements over the following couple of days after he and Karen walked out of the CCTV footage outside of the Sanctuary Nightclub on Sunday the 12th of April 2015. Although there is no footage of Karen and Pacteau going to his car or getting into his car, it is assumed that she was not under any duress and that she had been grateful that Pacteau had offered to give her a lift home. Pacteau did initially start to drive in the direction of Karen’s flat in Garnethill Street, however, he then drove to Kelvin Way, which is a three minute drive from the Sanctuary Nightclub. Pacteau’s car was seen on CCTV parked in Kelvin Way, which at that time of night was dark and quiet. His car was seen there from 1:06am where it stayed for 12 minutes and 46 seconds, before it then left Kelvin Way at 1:18am and turned round and travelled back along the same way it had just come. Police believe that during the 12 minutes his car was parked in Kelvin Way is when he had first attempted to strangle Karen, before hitting her repeatedly on the head with an adjustable spanner. She fought hard for her life as Karen had defensive wounds on her arms and hands, and Pacteau had cuts on his arms. Following murdering Karen, Pacteau drove around for about half an hour before driving to Dawsholm Park and dumping her handbag near a rubbish bin. Hethen returned to his first floor flat at Dorchester Avenue, a three-minute drive from the park, at 2am. He then wrapped Karen’s body in a sheet he had retrieved from his flat and carried her body into his bedroom, where he placed her body in a suitcase. Whatever he did in the next few hours is anybody’s guess, but he used his mobile phone again at 8am to look for the sodium hydroxide. After buying six litres of sodium hydroxide from B&Q, he returned to his flat, took Karen’s clothes off and submerged her body in a bath filled with the caustic soda. Oh God. He also apparently found the time to text his flatmate to find out what time they would be returning, to be told it would be about 8pm. Pacteau was not satisfied with just submerging Karen’s body in the caustic soda, he went on to make an incision from Karen’s sternum down to her abdomen, which allowed the solution to enter her body and destroy the internal organs, speeding up the process.  So bad. That is just grim. Pacteau spent quite a number of hours in the bathroom with Karen’s body, until about 5pm when he drained the bath and took her body back into his bedroom. He then began to tidy up the bathroom and hallway before his flatmate arrived at 8pm.

Cole: Pacteau must realise that he has a very busy day ahead of himself trying to cover up the horrific crime he has just committed, and so he is first seen at 4:52am on CCTV on Monday the 13th of April going to the Forth and Clyde Canal near his flat, where he dumps the spanner. He then goes to a local supermarket to try and find cleaning products to remove bloodstains from his mattress, going as far as actually asking a member of staff for her recommendations. He then goes on and buys white spirit and a lighter, before making his first trip of the day to High Craigton Farm, about 6 miles or 10 kilometres northwest of Glasgow, a place he knew well and had previously paid for storage there. He proceeded to burn Karen’s bloodstained clothes as well as the other bloodstained items from his flat, including some of his clothes and sponges. He picked up the blue barrel sometime between 8:30 and 9:30am. He goes to buy yet more sodium hydroxide from a completely different store before returning once again to his flat, where he took the barrel up to his flat and wrapped an extension cable around Karen’s body. He put brown parcel tape around her head then leaves the flat again without her body. Now clearly his cleaning products didn’t work on the bloodstains on the mattress as he was seen loading his mattress into his car. as well as a suitcase that Karen’s body had been in, and his duvet and other items. He was then seen on CCTV footage in a supermarket car park, which showed his car and a mattress in the back, where he bought another lighter and lighter fluid, before headed yet again to High Craigton Farm where he burns the mattress, duvet, clothes and suitcase. God he was busy going backwards and forwards wasn’t he?  He really was. Pacteau returns to his flat again at 11:19am and this time he fills the barrel with the drain unblocker liquid and the sodium hydroxide. He puts Karen’s body into the barrel and seals it. He is then seen at about 2pm by a neighbour struggling to take the barrel from his first floor flat to his car. Once he has the barrel in his car he goes to a supermarket to buy padlocks. He is seen again on CCTV driving towards the farm at 2:35pm, and a barrel could be seen in the back of his car. As he nears the farm he meets the local farmer and asks about renting a unit from him, and they agreed a price of £10 pound, or about $13, for the week. He drives to the storage unit he had rented and puts the barrel inside. He puts over the barrel a sheet, a paper shredder and a bike wheel, placed the padlock on the outside of the unit and left. He is then seen at a car wash having his car valeted at 4:16pm, and while he is waiting for the car to be cleaned he uses his phone to create an advert to sell the car, before heading home. The next time he is seen is when the police come to his door at 6pm and he says to them “I was just coming to see you.”

Dawn: Police Scotland had done an amazing job in not only catching  Pacteau and charging him for Karen’s murder, but in collecting as much evidence as they possibly could to ensure that there was no way this monster of a man could get away with anything that he had done, not only to Karen but to her family and friends. There were more than 500 police officers involved in the investigation, and Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham said that “The full resources of Police Scotland were directed towards understanding what had happened to Karen and tracing the person responsible for her murder.” Due to this diligent piece of policing detectives now knew where Pacteau had gotten rid of the murder weapon, and so on Tuesday the 21st of April, police divers went into the canal and they located the spanner used to kill Karen. But the evidence to prove Pacteau’s guilt didn’t stop there, it just kept mounting. Obviously the police had continued searching High Craigton Farm and the surrounding area after finding Karen’s body, and on Monday the 27th of April they found a partially burned mattress. After being forensically tested, it showed that the mattress contained samples of Karen’s blood. Also, through the use of cadaver dogs, it was confirmed that a body had been in Pacteau’s car, and it was established that it had been Karen’s body, due to forensic tests having found traces of Karen’s blood on the passenger side of the car. This was despite the fact that Pacteau had had his car valeted on Monday afternoon, following having taken Karen’s body to High Craigton Farm. Pacteau’s fingerprints were also found inside the blue barrel. He probably thought that they would have been destroyed by the sodium hydroxide, but he would have been wrong. Soil samples taken from the tyres on Pacteau’s car were compared to soil samples taken from High Craigton Farm and Dawsholm Park, and they matched also. While the police were continuing to collect evidence and build a case against Pacteau, Karen’s funeral was arranged for the 28th of April at her local parish church in Mourneabbey, County Cork. The church only holds 300 people and it just wasn’t big enough for all the mourners that attended her funeral to bid her a final farewell. A loudspeaker had to be put up outside for those that gathered. Karen had apparently loved fashion and her favourite dress had been placed beside her coffin to mark her love of fashion. Karen’s funeral was marked by many contributions from family and friends to remember her, including her cousin who read a poem entitled Karen, recalling her journey from green country fields to international studies; “A nurse with plans, a woman full of dreams. A smile to lift a thousand frowns; brown eyes shining big and round, a country girl, big hopes, big plans, big heart, big smile and caring hands.” While Karen was driven to her final resting place, her former University of Limerick nursing classmates walked alongside the hearse wearing their full nursing uniforms and carrying a single red rose, to form a special guard of honour.  That’s really nice. Only four months after burying their daughter, John and Marian Buckley, and their three sons, were back in Glasgow again on Tuesday the 11th of August for a hearing at the High Court, where they were subjected to listening to the moments leading up to their daughter’s horrific murder, and what Pacteau did to her body after the murder. Pacteau pleaded guilty to the murder of Karen Buckley. Through his defence counsel, he accepted full responsibility for his actions, but could offer no rational explanation for what he had done.  During the hearing, footage was also shown of Pacteau  being interviewed by the police, where he was speaking about the moment he first saw Karen outside the Sanctuary Nightclub. This footage is on our website. He also disclosed that he apparently had little recollection of the events on 12th April claiming he was so drunk, and blamed the fatal attack on a trivial comment passed by Karen in his car. A trivial comment? That’s all it took?  Yep. That was all it took. Outside the High Court, following the hearing, Karen’s father, John, thanked the police and the people of Glasgow for all their help in finding Karen. He said, “What a waste of a young life. It all seemed unreal. No words of ours can do justice to our feelings towards him. He is truly evil and we hope he spends the rest of his life behind bars.  Our hearts are broken at the thought of Karen’s final moments in this world. The thought of her being alone, frightened and struggling for her life haunts us. We miss her terribly. Karen is our little angel and she is at peace now.” Then finally the day everyone involved in the case, and Karen’s family, had been waiting for, Pacteau’s sentencing. On the 8th of September 2015, everyone attended the High Court in Glasgow again. Pacteau’s sentencing was actually recorded and broadcast, and if you’d like to listen to the full summing up and sentencing by Judge Lady Rae, I’ve put a link to it on our website. Judge Lady Rae, residing over Pacteau’s sentencing, said that she found it extremely difficult to find words to describe the dreadful crime that he had pleaded guilty to. She said, “This crime is a very shocking and disturbing case. You killed a young woman who was a stranger to you in what appears to be a motiveless, senseless, brutal attack.” She went on to say “You claimed to be remorseful, but you only expressed remorse for the first time when you pleaded guilty.”  She went on to say that Karen had been much loved and that he had carried out a “brutal, motiveless attack on a defenceless young woman.” Lady Rae stated that she felt that her hands had been somewhat tied in relation to Pacteau’s sentencing, as not only had the Crown decided not to seek a conviction for Pacteau attempting to defeat the ends of justice, but the defence had also argued that she not take into account anything that had happened after the actual murder. She said that she found this “extraordinary”.  She continued, “What you did after her killing, including telling the police a tissue of lies, some of which went into the public domain which would, I have no doubt caused the family increased stress. All of this displays the actions of a man who is callous and calculated.” In the end she decided that she could not in fact ignore Pacteau’s actions after the killing and sentenced him to spend a minimum of 23 years in jail for murdering Karen Buckley, before he could apply for parole.  It will be at least 2038 before he is up for release, he will be 44 years old. Following the sentencing Pacteau was led away in silence. Karen’s dad gave a statement after the sentencing saying, “Today’s life sentence will not bring our beautiful Karen back. Our little angel has been taken from us forever in the cruellest of ways. We mourn for her every day. It will, however, ensure that women are safe from harm from the truly evil coward who took our beautiful Karen’s precious life. I hope that he is never released and spends every day in prison haunted by what he did.” Karen’s dad went on to say that himself, his wife Marian and their three sons, would try their best to rebuild their lives.

Cole: Two weeks after his sentencing, the family were again drawn into the spotlight as Pacteau had lodged an appeal to shorten his sentence. While the family had been warned that this might happen, I can’t imagine how they must have felt. Pacteau’s mum, Noreen, had been visiting her son regularly in prison and somehow she managed to convince Pacteau to withdraw the appeal, out of respect for Karen’s family, which he did in December, two days before the court appearance was due to take place. His mother, Noreen, was devastated by what he had done when she first found out. He had apparently visited her house for a meal the night before he murdered Karen. She said that she was absolutely “heartbroken for Karen’s family, distraught and dismayed by the whole thing.” She was asked if she would be apologising to the Buckley family on behalf of her son, but she said “I don’t think an apology would suffice. If this was my daughter it simply wouldn’t suffice.”

Dawn: Yeah, I totally agree with that.  I think that would have been the wrong thing to do.

Cole: Yeah. As far as I can see she stayed away from Karen’s family.

Dawn: That’s good. So, after the absolute horror of losing their beloved daughter, the ordeal of the hearing, the sentencing, the appeal, I think by this point Karen’s family and friends probably just needed a bit of time to themselves to process everything, and grieve and heal. However, a year on from Karen Buckley’s life tragically and brutally being taken, she was not forgotten, far from it. Memorial services had been arranged and took place on both sides of the Irish Sea. On the 12th of April 2016 at Glasgow Caledonia University, Karen’s friends, classmates and staff at the University, came together for quiet, personal reflection to remember Karen and her family.  And then at around 7:30pm on Friday the 15th of April in Cork in Ireland, Karen’s family and friends came together at the Church of Saint Michael the Archangel in Analeentha, Mourneabby for tributes and prayers. This was the same church where Karen had received her communion, her confirmation, and where her funeral was held. The prayers were led by local priest Father Joe O’Keefe, who had been a “rock of support and a true friend”, and who had supported the family since the murder. And then on the 17th of April 2016, the family released a statement saying, “We wish to express our sincere gratitude to the very many people who went out of their way to help and support us at the time of Karen’s death and ever since. It was and continues to be very much appreciated by all of us and our extended family. We are indebted to the professionalism and great courtesy of the Scottish police and our own Garda Siochana for all the help we received in coping with a terrible tragedy; to the Scottish people who held a vigil for Karen in Glasgow and prayed with us, to everybody who has shared our terrible loss please accept this acknowledgement of our profound gratitude.”

Cole: It’s not often that in these cases families get the support or closure that they need, so it was a nice way to end it.

Dawn: Yeah, it was.  And that’s the end. If you’ve enjoyed this episode and know just the person who’d also like it, please share it with them don’t keep it to yourself.

Cole: Please also get in touch on social media if you have any questions, comments or suggestions, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. All social media and contact details are on our website as well as all the source material and photos related to this episode.

Dawn: So that’s it for this week, come back next time for another episode of Scottish Murders.

Both: Join us there! Bye!

Granny Robertson: Scottish Murders is a production of Cluarantonn.

Scottish Murders is a production of Cluarantonn

Hosted by Dawn and Cole

Researched and Written by Dawn Young

Produced and Edited by Dawn Young and Peter Bull

Production Company Name by Granny Robertson


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