NewsCrime Desk

Karen's killer 'stalked other women' before murder

Disturbed: Alexander Pacteau
Disturbed: Alexander Pacteau

Killer Alexander Pacteau was investigated by Scottish police amid fears he may have stalked other women in Glasgow.

The Irish Independent has learned that while one woman became of interest to police, she had absolutely no knowledge of being either followed or watched by Pacteau.

As a line of inquiry, it was subsequently dropped amid lack of evidence.

But the woman was interviewed by detectives after they suspected Pacteau may have watched her following anecdotal indications from neighbours, acquaintances and colleagues of the young man.

CCTV security camera footage was also studied by detectives.

The woman, who was traced via a distinctive brightly coloured dress she wore, said she had no knowledge of being watched or followed.

The revelation came as Police in Scotland admitted that they now believe Pacteau was stalking a random female victim on the Dumbarton Road on April 12 - and it was Karen Buckley's ill-fortune that she crossed onto the same side of the street as the hulking 21-year-old as she walked home alone.

Pacteau, who is also known as Alexander Barr, was acquitted in 2013 of sexually assaulting a young Scottish woman. The alleged incident occurred in 2011 when Pacteau was just 17-years-old.

He vehemently denied the charge and told his trial he would "rather be charged with murder than attempted rape."

The woman who made the complaint was 24, seven years older than Pacteau.

Pacteau was subsequently found not guilty by a majority High Court jury verdict after a four-day trial.

Det Supt Jim Kerr, who led the hunt for the Irish nurse and who was singled out for praise by the Buckley family, said that police do not believe Pacteau's account of what sparked the fatal attack on the Cork student.

"We would describe him as being callous and calculating. That could have happened to any female that night," he said.

"All we know is that she left that nightclub to go home to the city centre and he headed off in the car in that direction.

"I think (he had) a premeditated plan that night to find some victim. There is no question but that he saw an opportunity.

"But whether that was Karen Buckley or somebody else remains to be seen. I am not sure about the weapons involved. But I do know that he has been callous and calculating (in his actions).

"You can even see from his actions following the event given what and when he did."

"I do not know (his motive). But he made a very concerted effort to destroy any evidence of Karen Buckley's whereabouts. He had the opportunity at various times during this investigation, particularly in the crucial opening three-day period, to tell us exactly where she was."

"But he did not do that," Det Supt Kerr said.

Pacteau is now in protective custody in one of Scotland's toughest prisons, HM Barlinnie Prison, after the shocking revelations of how he bludgeoned Karen to death and then attempted to dissolve her body in a barrel of caustic soda.

Pacteau faces a life sentence after he pleaded guilty to the murder of the Cork nurse at Kelvin Way in Glasgow just minutes after Karen had left 'The Sanctuary' nightclub alone on April 12 last.

The young man lured Karen into his Ford Focus car with the offer of a lift home before first trying to strangle her and then beating her to death with a heavy 30cm spanner.

For a time he drove around Glasgow with Karen's dead body in the passenger seat of his car before trying to dissolve her remains in caustic soda in the bathtub of his flat and later in a plastic barrel.

He then hid the barrel in a storage shed on an isolated Glasgow hill farm.

Pacteau will be sentenced on September 8.

Ralph Riegel