In the end, it took just 20 minutes to hand down the mandatory life sentence.
The swiftness with which the sentence was imposed yesterday in Glasgow High Court on Alexander Pacteau stood in stark contrast to the agonising wait that Karen Buckley’s parents endured last April as appeals were issued for the public’s help in tracing her, while police searched frantically.
John and Marian Buckley, from Mourneabbey in North Cork, made the difficult journey to Glasgow again on Monday to finally see justice done.
The couple arrived at Glasgow High Court holding hands shortly after 9am.
Flanked by police liaison officers, they were ushered into the court house, past waiting photographers. They sat in the main body of the south courtroom behind a glass screen, just yards from the man who had brutally killed their daughter.
A hush fell over the packed courtroom as Judge Rita Rae took her seat just after 10am.
Pacteau was then brought up from cells below.
Dressed in a light grey suit, a white shirt, and navy tie, the 6ft 4in murderer took his seat in the dock directly facing the judge, with prison officers on either side of him, his head slightly bowed.
After submissions from his defence counsel, the judge ordered Pacteau to stand, before delivering her hard-hitting sentencing statement in a calm, strong voice.
It was devastating in its simplicity.
She described Pacteau as a callous and calculated man who had covered up his dreadful crime, who had concocted a tissue of lies for police, and who only expressed remorse once he pleaded guilty in August.
Karen’s parents gasped quietly when the judge eventually imposed the 25-year life sentence, with an order that Pacteau serve a minimum of 23 years before being eligible for parole.
Mr and Mrs Buckley were escorted again from the courtroom. They did not speak to the media.
After months of agony and heartache, they had seen their daughter’s killer sentenced in under 20 minutes.
In a statement issued through the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service’s Victim Information and Advice support service afterwards, Mr Buckley said he hopes his daughter’s “truly evil” and cowardly killer will be haunted every day in prison by what he did.
He also said the sentence will ensure that women are safe from harm from him.
Mr Buckley said the life sentence will not bring their daughter back to them.
“Our little angel has been taken from us forever in the cruellest of ways. We mourn for her every day,” he said.
“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.
“Marian and I would again like to thank the people of Scotland and Ireland, the Irish gardaí and the Scottish Police and Prosecution service for all their help and support in bringing Karen’s killer to justice.
“We appreciate most especially those who keep us in their thoughts and prayers.
“We all want to move on and try to piece our lives back together. We have three wonderful sons and we need to be there for each other as a family.
“We would be grateful if we can now be left alone to grieve and our family’s privacy be respected.
“Karen is at peace now and we know that she is in heaven looking down on us and helping us.”
The Buckleys are expected to return to their home in Co Cork today.
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