Thursday 13 December 2018

Body found in search for missing young student Jastine Valdez

  • Ms Valdez is believed to have been abducted on Saturday
  • The suspect - Mark Hennessy (40) - was shot dead by gardai last night
  • Ms Valdez's purse was found at a disused golf course in Rathmichael this morning
Gardai at Pucks Castle Lane in Rathmichael and (inset) missing student Jastine Valdez
Gardai at Pucks Castle Lane in Rathmichael and (inset) missing student Jastine Valdez

Ken Foy, Ian Begley, Robin Schiller and Tom Brady

A BODY has been found in the search for missing student Jastine Valdez, who is believed to have been abducted on Saturday.

Dozens of gardai, members of the Defence Forces, civil defence and sniffer dogs have been taking part a major operation in a wooded area in the Rathmichael vicinity in south Dublin, after the young woman's purse and an identification card were found at a disused golf course there earlier today.

Gardai searching at the top of Rathmichael at Kathy Gallaghers Lead Mines
Gardai searching at the top of Rathmichael at Kathy Gallaghers Lead Mines

A body has been found, but there has been no confirmation of identification.

It is understood than the body was found in an old mine this afternoon.

Last night, the father-of-two suspected of abducting the 24-year-old in an apparently-random attack in Wicklow on Saturday was shot dead by an armed officer.

"Gardai investigating the disappearance of 24-year-old Jastine Valdez have discovered the body of a female in the Puckscastle area," a spokesman said.

Mark Hennessy, suspected abducter
Mark Hennessy, suspected abducter

"The body has not been formally identified.

"Gardai wish to appeal for privacy for the Valdez family at this time.

"Gardaí wish to thank the public, the media, the Defence Forces and Civil Defence for their assistance in this investigation.

This morning, the focus of the search switched to an unused golf course at Puckscastle, close to the Wickow border, where Ms Valdez's purse was found.

Ms Valdez (24) from Enniskerry in Co Wicklow, was last seen being bundled into a Nissan Qashqai SUV near her home on Saturday evening.

Her suspected abductor was shot dead by an officer in a confrontation on Sunday evening after gardai traced the vehicle to the Cherrywood business district south of Dublin.

The man killed has been named locally as 40-year-old Mark Hennessy, from Bray, in Co Wicklow. He was a father-of-two.

Hennessy (40), who was married with two young children, was confronted in a car park in south Dublin last night after a massive search operation for the missing woman.

Pucks Castle Lane,Rathmichael sealed off by gardai
Pucks Castle Lane,Rathmichael sealed off by gardai

A senior source told Independent.ie that the kidnapping suspect was armed with a knife when gardaí approached him at the Cherrywood industrial estate.

It is understood that Hennessy threatened to self-harm and stab gardaí, before he was shot by a detective from a south Dublin garda station.

This morning, gardai also renewed their appeal for any information in relation to the movement of a black Nissan Qashqai registration 171 D 20419 between 5pm on Saturday and 8pm on Sunday.

Officers are attempting to piece together Hennessy’s movements since 5pm on Saturday when he left his home in Bray, Co Wicklow.

The kidnapping suspect, a building contractor originally from Ballybrack, had told his wife he was going out socialising on Saturday evening.

He has no obvious connections to Jastine and her movements on the day she went missing were random, leading gardai to investigate whether the attack was completely unplanned.

The young IT Tallaght student was abducted by a man driving a black Nissan Qashqai as she walked home near Enniskerry about 6.30pm on Saturday. There has been no sighting of her since.   

Following a massive garda appeal for information about the car, Hennessy was sighted at Killiney Dart station yesterday afternoon.

When confronted by members of the public, he mounted a curb in the Qashqai and fled the scene at speed.

He was later traced to the Cherrywood industrial estate where a stand-off with gardaí ensued.

Hennessy was shot dead and, as is normal when a garda firearm is discharged, the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) is investigating the shooting.

However fears are mounting for Jastine after she was not found in the car.

She and her parents, who are from the Philippines, have been living in Ireland for the past three years.

The student had got off a bus in Enniskerry on Saturday evening and was walking home along Kilcroney Road, near the Powerscourt estate, when the Qashqai pulled alongside her.

Witnessed

The driver of the car pulled her into the vehicle and then drove off at high speed.

A woman and her young family witnessed the incident and alerted the gardaí.

About an hour later, a man phoned the gardai to say he had spotted a young woman in distress in a car on the N11, a short distance from where the abduction took place.

Gardai checked the area and set up a wider search for the car.

But when Jastine’s parents contacted gardai at 11pm on Saturday to report she was missing, a large-scale investigation was launched.

A divisional search party was sent out at first light yesterday and officers found Jastine’s mobile phone and some other personal belongings including a bag near where she had been abducted.

The air support unit was involved while gardaí also received assistance from the Civil Defence. Members of the Garda technical bureau carried out extensive searches.

Jastine is described as 5ft tall, slightly built with long, black hair and brown eyes. When last seen, she was wearing a dark-coloured jacket, a white T-shirt, grey leggings and runners.

Gardaí appealed to anyone with information about the incident or the car to contact them at Bray station on 01 6665300 or the Garda Confidential Line 1800 666111.

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