IT WAS a Saturday in Glasgow's busy West End and nurse Karen Buckley was enjoying a night out with friends.

As the evening drew to a close they headed to the Sanctuary nightclub in Dumbarton Road, Partick, arriving at 11.45pm.

Karen, 24, had only been in Glasgow a few months after moving there to study at the city's Caledonian University.

Around 1am she left the club on her own and began talking to a young man she met in the street. 

For some reason they walked to his car in nearby Church Street and drove off together.

It was the last time Karen was seen alive.

The following day, April 12, 2015, her worried friends reported her missing and a massive police operation was launched.

Karen who had left her jacket behind at the club was caught on CCTV talking to the mystery man in Dumbarton Road.

They were then seen walking together to where he parked his car, about 100 yards from the club.

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Concerns for her welfare grew after a member of the public found her handbag in Dawsholm Park in Kelvindale and handed it in to police. 

Her worried parents then flew from Ireland to make an emotional plea for her safe return. 

Karen's friends who had been with her at Sanctuary told police she had no plans afterwards other than to go home and get a good night's sleep.

So why had a young woman new to Glasgow got in a car with a complete stranger?

READ MORE: The abduction, torture and murder of Lynda Spence

Suspicion quickly turned on to hulking giant Alexander Pacteau, who had been in the same club that night with seven pals. They had even paid £250 to book a booth for themselves.

After the last sighting of Karen, CCTV footage showed Pacteau's grey Ford Focus driving along Dumbarton Road around 1am then turning left into Kelvin Way and reappearing at the other end 12 minutes later.

Detectives would later conclude she had been murdered by Pacteau in his car during that 12-minute window.

In fact, he had repeatedly clubbed Karen on the head with a 12-inch spanner.

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Pacteau then took her body to his flat in Dorchester Avenue, after dumping the handbag in nearby Dawsholm Park.

A total of 1900 hours of CCTV footage were reviewed by officers in a bid to build up a case against him.

They showed chilling images of Pacteau spending the following Sunday morning driving to various supermarkets and DIY stores in the West End to pick up supplies to cover his tracks, including caustic soda.

While his flatmate was out, Pacteau carried Karen's beaten body into his bathroom and placed her in the bath.

He submerged her body in caustic soda to try and dissolve it and then tried to clean the flat of any trace of the nurse.

His flatmate was due to return home and he was forced to drain the bath and wrap his victim's body in a duvet overnight.

During this period, Pacteau went to the Forth and Clyde Canal and threw the blood-stained spanner into the water. 

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He drove to another supermarket and asked a shop assistant to recommend a cleaning agent for removing blood from a mattress.

After spending more than an hour trying to clean Karen's blood from the duvet and mattress, Pacteau decided to burn everything she had come into contact with. 

Later, he bought a 220-litre blue plastic barrel which he also filled with caustic soda before placing her body in it.

That Monday afternoon, Pacteau took the barrel to High Craigton Farm, near Milngavie, where he had previously stored fireworks. 

He agreed a deal with the farmer to rent an outhouse for £10 for a week and hid the barrel inside, placing a cotton sheet, paper shredder and bicycle wheel on top.

Within moments of him arriving home, police knocked the door of his flat in Dorchester Avenue. 

As soon as he opened the front door, the officers were hit by an overwhelming smell of bleach. 

Pacteau admitted that Karen had been in his flat, and she left - alive and well - at 4am.

He also admitted getting rid of "stuff" from his flat and burning it.

Pacteau said he panicked when he heard Karen was missing.

READ MORE: The murder of Euan Johnston as he waited at Glasgow traffic lights

He agreed to go to Helen Street Police Office in Govan to give a witness statement but was allowed to leave later that Monday night.

By Wednesday, following the CCTV trawl, police decided they had enough evidence to treat him as a suspect.

He was detained in Starbucks in Nelson Mandela Place in Glasgow city centre shortly before 2pm and again taken to Helen Street Police Office.

Around an hour later, a member of the public contacted police with information about High Craigton Farm.

He explained how he worked with Pacteau when they sold fireworks together and they used to store their goods at a farm.

This vital tip-off led police to the farm - and ultimately to Karen's body. 

The forensic evidence against Pacteau was damning.

Tiny blood spots were found in his car, bedroom and bathroom. He even left a fingerprint inside the barrel used to hide the body.

In August that year Pacteau appeared at the High Court in Glasgow and admitted a charge of murdering Karen.

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It transpired he had arrived at the club with his friends around the same time as Karen and her pals.

He left the club alone around 1am telling a steward he was going to get something from his car.

Karen walked out of the club, also alone, and met Pacteau.

It's believed he offered the nurse a lift to her flat in Garnethill but instead drove the short distance to Kelvin Way, near Glasgow University.

There he struck Karen with the spanner up to 13 times, leaving its imprint on her head. He fractured her skull and caused a massive bleed to her brain.

Karen was 5ft 4in and Pacteau 6ft 4in but she fought bravely, covering his hands and arms with scratches. 

Following Pacteau's conviction, Karen’s dad John Buckley spoke for his wife and their three sons outside court.

He said: "All Karen was doing was making her way home when she was randomly targeted and murdered by a cowardly, vicious criminal.

"No words of ours can do justice to our feelings towards him. He is truly evil and we hope he will spend the rest of his life behind bars."

Detective superintendent Jim Kerr, who led the investigation, admitted any female could have suffered at Pacteau's hands that night.

He said: "I think there was a premeditated plan that night to find some victim.

"He has been calculated and callous. They're complete strangers and he's made a concerted effort to destroy any evidence as to Karen's whereabouts.

"He had the opportunity at various times during this investigation to tell us exactly where she was and he didn't do that either."  

After his guilty plea it emerged that Pacteau had been cleared of attempted rape in 2013, involving a woman the same age as Karen.

He also had a conviction in 2014 for forging bank notes worth £6000 by scanning real paper money and printing out the copies.

Unlike many who pass through the doors of the High Court in Glasgow, Pacteau came from a good home and was a former pupil at the city's prestigious fee-paying Kelvinside Academy.

At the time of his arrest he was running his own courier company.

The sentencing of Pacteau in Glasgow three weeks later was recorded by television cameras.

Karen's parents, who had again travelled from their home in County Cork, were seated on the High Court public benches.

Defence QC John Scullion said his client could offer no explanation for his actions in killing a complete stranger.

He had been "extremely intoxicated" and could recall little about why he killed Karen.

As the young man stood impassively in the dock with his head bowed, judge Lady Rae said: "Your killing of this young woman, combined with the extraordinary lengths to which you went to cover it up, display the actions of a callous and calculating man."

Pacteau was given a life term and told he must serve at 23 years before he can be considered for parole.

Lady Rae said the minimum sentence would have been 25 years, but for his guilty plea. 

The killer, dressed in a grey suit, white shirt and blue tie, showed no emotion and refused to look at the victim's family as he was led handcuffed to the cells. 

Pacteau will only be released at the end of his sentence if a parole board decide he is no longer a risk. 

His earliest release date is 2038 when he will be in his mid-40s.

Speaking at the time, DS Kerr said: "I think it would be a very brave parole board that would decide to let him out at that point in time."