Casual murder of an innocent - Karen Buckley’s killer sentenced

THE idea of a killer selecting a victim at random; the idea that the desire to kill or rape is so powerful, that the identity of the victim is irrelevant to the murderer, is so alien to anything we might regard as normal.

Such random savagery and indifference to a fellow human being, and their family and friends left to grieve the loss of a loved one, is so far beyond our comprehension that we struggle to find a framework to express our reaction. We struggle to process the idea through the innate humanity that anchors the great majority of us to civilised behaviour.

Yet that situation, coping with the loss of a child through random murder, is the fate of Karen Buckley’s family. She was murdered in Glasgow last April in a chilling mix of casualness and brutality. Less than two years earlier the family and friends of Jill Meagher, the 29 year old murdered and raped in Melbourne faced the same horror.

At the high court in Glasgow yesterday Alexander Pacteau, 21, was sentenced to life in prison for Karen Buckley’s murder and the judge Lady Rae ordered that he serve at least 23 years before being considered for parole.

We can do little enough to ease the pain of the Buckley and Meagher families — and the families of other murder victims — but surely we must do more to try to understand why terrible, casual and random violence seems ever more common and thereby understand how to curb it.

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