By Eoin English, Grant McCabe and Lucy Christie
Karen Buckley’s killer Alexander Pacteau has been jailed for life for the brutal murder of the Irish nurse earlier this year.
Judge Lady Rae handed down the mandatory life sentence at a sentencing diet in the High Court in Glasgow this morning, which was being recorded for TV..
The judge said he will have to serve a minimum of 25 years in jail with two years discounted, meaning it will be 23 years (or the year 2038) before he is eligible for parole.
In a hard-hitting judgement, she told Pacteau that he had killed a young defenceless woman who was in the prime of her life, a visitor to Glasgow who was in the city to study and further her life.
She said she was a much loved member of a close unified family.
"To you she was a stranger who accepted a lift in your car," she said. "You destroyed her young life, devastating her family."
She said he went to extraordinary lengths to cover up his crime and only expressed remorse once in police custody and after they had found her body.
Pacteau, who sat head bowed throughout the 15-minute hearing, showed no reaction.
He is expected to be taken from court shortly to begin his sentence in one of Scotland’s toughest prisons, HM Barlinnie Prison, where he has been in protective custody since pleading guilty to Karen's murder earlier this year.
Karen’s parents, John and Marian Buckley, from Glynn, near Mourneabbey in north Cork, were in court to see the man who killed their daughter jailed.
Karen, 24, was on a night out with friends in April when she was murdered by Pacteau.
Lady Rae said Pacteau had carried out a “brutal, motiveless attack on a defenceless young woman”.
She continued: "I find it extremely difficult to find words appropriate to describe the dreadful crime to which you pleaded guilty.
“Karen Buckley was a young woman in the prime of life. She was a visitor to Glasgow, studying to expand her knowledge in furtherance of her career in nursing. She was a much loved member of a close and united family.
"To you she was a stranger who appeared tragically to have accepted a lift in your car. Within a matter of minutes, for some inexplicable reason, you destroyed her young life and devastated a family."
The judge said Pacteau had gone to “extraordinary lengths” to conceal what he had done and told a “tissue of lies” and a "concoted story" to police investigating her disappearance.
In delivering her sentence she said: "You now, through your counsel, claim to be remorseful. Remorse was, however, only expressed for the first time when you pleaded guilty.
"From a perusal of the criminal justice social work report, it is apparent that in the course of your lengthy interviews with the social worker, at no time did you ever demonstrate or express any regret for what you had done."
The judge read out a passage written by a social worker that stated: “Mr Pacteau remained impassive during both interviews and at no point used the words regret, remorse or sorry.”
She said: "(The) expression of remorse on 11 August might have carried more weight if communicated earlier. And it is difficult, in my view, to envisage someone who is truly sorry for killing another human being, going to the lengths to which you went to cover up your appalling crime, whilst making up false stories about the deceased."
Saying he would serve a minimum of 23 years in jail - described as the "punishment part" of the sentence - Lady Rae said it would have been 25 years, but for his guilty plea.
She, however, stated that to “some extent” she had been restricted in sentencing, due to the Crown not including a separate charge of attempting to defeat the ends of justice with regard to Pacteau's disposal of Karen's body.
Pacteau showed no emotion and refused to look at Karen's family in the public benches as he was led handcuffed to the cells.
Miss Buckley’s parents John and Marian travelled from Cork to see Pacteau plead guilty on August 11 and were in court again today.
The qualified nurse had only been in Glasgow for a few months before her killing.
She had recently left her job at an Essex hospital and moved to Scotland to study for a masters degree in occupational health therapy at Glasgow Caledonian University.
Miss Buckley was described as an outgoing woman whose life revolved around her family and friends.
Pacteau, who described himself as a “self-employed sales consultant”, has a previous conviction for printing counterfeit money.
It emerged after his conviction that he stood trial in 2013 at the High Court in Paisley accused of attempting to rape a woman in a Glasgow lane. He was found not guilty of the charge.
In the early hours of April 12, he met Miss Buckley outside the Sanctuary nightclub and drove her to nearby Kelvin Way, where he grabbed her neck and delivered about a dozen blows with a spanner.
The killer visited various shops to purchase caustic soda before placing her body in the bath at his flat.
On trips to High Craigton Farm on the outskirts of the city, he burned a mattress and clothes before buying a barrel, placing Miss Buckley’s body inside and locking it in a storage unit he had rented.
Pacteau initially claimed to detectives, who identified him from CCTV footage, that they went back to his flat and she had fallen and injured herself on the bed frame.
His solicitor John Scullion QC said he could offer no ”rational explanation” for his actions.
Pacteau's QC had previously told the court that the killer had “limited recollection” of what happened that night.
John Scullion said at the previous hearing that an apparently “trivial argument” had seen Pacteau “react angrily” to Karen.
Mr Scullion today/yesterday added that Pacteau “admitted full responsibility” for the murder.