Wednesday 13 November 2019

Killer Hennessy told wife he would be 'home soon' hours after murdering Jastine (24)


Jastine Valdez who was killed after being abducted
Jastine Valdez who was killed after being abducted
Robin Schiller

Robin Schiller

Killer Mark Hennessy spoke to his wife and told her he would be "home soon" the morning after he abducted and killed student Jastine Valdez.

Yesterday, an inquest jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing into the death of the 24-year-old who was forced into the boot of a Nissan Qashqai in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow, on May 19, 2018.

The abduction sparked a nationwide Garda alert and the suspect, Hennessy (40), was confronted the following day at a south Dublin business park where he was shot dead by a detective garda.

The inquest was told how Hennessy's wife Nicola last saw her husband at 5.25pm on the day of the abduction when he left with her car to get a bottle of wine.

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She spoke to him on the mobile phone between 5.45pm and 6pm and he said that he was going to meet his cousin for a pint.

Ms Hennessy tried to contact her husband a number of times that evening but could not get through, and he did not return home that night.

Anguish: Teresita and Danilo Valdez, the parents of Jastine Valdez, with family friends at the inquest into the death of their daughter. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
Anguish: Teresita and Danilo Valdez, the parents of Jastine Valdez, with family friends at the inquest into the death of their daughter. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

She said that after numerous phone calls the next morning he answered at around 8am and Ms Hennessy asked her husband where he had stayed.

He told her he had slept at the Seafront that night, which she took to mean Bray, and that he would "be home soon", but the killer had just hours earlier abducted Jastine Valdez before leaving her body in thick gorse at Puck's Castle in Rathmichael, Co Dublin. She was eventually found at 3pm on May 21.

Harrowing evidence was also given from eye witnesses who reported seeing a woman being bundled into the back of the car and in a distressed state.

A statement was read to the court from Susan Forsyth, who said that at around 6.15pm on May 19 she was driving past Powerscourt on the R760 when she noticed a dark coloured car with no lights on parked along the road.

The boot was open and she heard shouting and began to feel something was terribly wrong. After passing the car she heard screaming, slapping noises and a male "shouting angrily". Ms Forsyth said she saw an "Asian" woman who she thought was aged in her 30s or 40s being pushed into the boot of the car.

Eye witness Gareth Thompson gave evidence that shortly after 6.15pm he was driving northbound on the N11 behind a black Nissan Qashqai, driven by a man with tight cut or shaven hair, and noticed what he described as a little girl in the back of the vehicle.

He said it looked like she was screaming or waving and it did not look like she was crying but that there was a "concerned" look on her face, adding she didn't look comfortable.

The witness returned home and spoke to his wife about the incident, saying he wasn't sure if the female in the rear of the vehicle was waving.

His wife told him if he had a gut feeling then he should contact gardaí, and Mr Thompson reported the matter to Bray garda station.

Deputy State Pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan gave evidence of a post-mortem examination carried out on Ms Valdez on the evening of May 21, 2018.

In her evidence, Dr Mulligan gave the cause of the death as asphyxia through external pressure on the neck.

Dr Mulligan also said that toxicology tests found "very low levels of cocaine" in her system which may have been ingested in the hours before she passed away.

The inquest had earlier heard evidence from Joseph Squire, who was in a relationship with Ms Valdez at the time of her death, in which he said that the 24-year-old student "never took drugs and was way too innocent for anything like that".

Witness Christina Connolly said that she was in work at around 7pm on May 20 when she read the Irish Independent app and read a story containing details of a car being sought in connection with the disappearance of a woman in Enniskerry.

She later came across the vehicle and notified gardaí. Ms Connolly followed the vehicle until it entered the Cherrywood Business Park, and waited for gardaí. Two undercover vehicles arrived a short time later and confronted Hennessy before he was shot dead.

At the beginning of yesterday's inquest, Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane acknowledged the presence of members of the Valdez family, including her parents Teresita and Danilo, on what she said would be a "difficult day" for them.

Det Supt Frank Keeneghan said that extensive analysis of the phones of Ms Valdez and Hennessy were carried out, including their social media profiles.

However, he said that no prior links between them were found.

Irish Independent

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