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Saturday 20 October 2018

'Broken up' phone central to investigation as gardaí probe killer Hennessy's use of dating apps and sites

Victim's iPad is key as intensive searches continue

Gardai at the scene in Cherrywood, Co Dublin, where Mark Hennessy (above right) was shot dead. Jastine Valdez (inset left). Photo: Arthur Carron
Gardai at the scene in Cherrywood, Co Dublin, where Mark Hennessy (above right) was shot dead. Jastine Valdez (inset left). Photo: Arthur Carron
A photo of Jastine’s blue shoulder bag issued by An Garda Síochána.

Ken Foy

Gardaí are investigating whether twisted killer Mark Hennessy was using dating apps and websites and even if he had attempted to contact potential victims online.

A massive probe was still continuing last night into the brutal murder of tragic Jastine Valdez (24).

A phone which had been “broken up” by Hennessy is said to be central to the investigation.

Officers last night also officially appealed for information about Ms Valdez’s blue shoulder bag, which contained an Apple iPad Mini.

Jastine Valdez
Jastine Valdez

Gardaí believe this device may have details crucial to their investigation and appealed for the public to contact them at Bray garda station.

Intensive searches continued yesterday near Puck’s Castle Lane, close to where Ms Valdez’s body was found on Monday afternoon.

“Of course trawling through social media is playing a major part in this investigation. And yes, dating websites and all kinds of internet activity is being examined by investigators,” a senior source said last night.

“Gardaí have the suspect’s laptop and his damaged phone as well as other devices.

Members of the Defence Forces search for Jastine Valdez’s handbag at Puck’s Castle Lane yesterday. Photo: Colin O’Riordan
Members of the Defence Forces search for Jastine Valdez’s handbag at Puck’s Castle Lane yesterday. Photo: Colin O’Riordan

“They now need to examine her iPad and this might finally come to some kind of closure. It has been very difficult for all involved,” the source added.

A post-mortem examination showed the 24-year-old student had been strangled, but gardaí do not know yet if she was sexually assaulted before she was murdered.

Officers took the step last night of issuing a photo of her bag in a bid to track it down.

“We are particularly interested in the whereabouts of a blue shoulder bag and an Apple mini iPad belonging to the victim,” a Garda spokesperson said last night.

“We are continuing our appeal for information regarding the movements of the black

Nissan Qashqai, registered number 171 D 20419, and the driver of this vehicle Mark Hennessy, between 5pm on Saturday, May 19 and 8pm on Sunday 20.”

Hennessy was fatally shot once by a highly respected detective in Cherrywood Business Park in south Dublin on Sunday night after he threatened an unarmed garda with a knife.

This has led to an investigation by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc), which released information about the tragedy last night.

Hennessy’s death was caught on camera footage from a Garda traffic car at the scene.

A spokesperson for Gsoc said: “A Garda service weapon was recovered from the scene by Gsoc.

“The remaining ammunition and one spent cartridge was located in the firearm.

“A Stanley knife was subsequently recovered from the vehicle, the Nissan Qashqai, which had been the subject of a Garda alert in the preceding hours.”

The spokesperson confirmed that a post-mortem showed Hennessy was in fact shot in the shoulder.

“The man identified as Mark Hennessy had been shot in the shoulder, and that the bullet entered his torso causing fatal injuries. 

“The deceased was in the driver’s seat at the time of the shooting. Other wounds consistent with self-harming were noted on his body,” the spokesperson added.

Gsoc stated the agency has appointed a family liaison officer to interact with the heartbroken family of killer Hennessy.

Gsoc investigators are in the process of collecting evidence including video footage of the incident. 

In particular, Gsoc is in possession of a recording from the ANPR camera of the Garda traffic car which was at the scene. CCTV recordings from premises in the vicinity have also been provided to Gsoc investigators.

Gardaí discovered a heavily blood-stained note in Hennessy’s car after he was shot dead leading to the discovery of Jastine’s body the following day.

In the note, he had apologised for his sickening crime which resulted in the student’s body being found in dense gorse in a disused golf club in Rathmichael, south Dublin.

It can be revealed that after the murder Hennessy went to a pub in his native Ballybrack and spent the evening drinking. Investigating officers have gathered CCTV footage of him in the pub.

Irish Independent

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