Thursday 17 October 2019

'Everyone is absolutely in shock' - Residents of village 'devastated' at student's disappearance

Jastine Valdez, 24, from Enniskerry (Garda Press Office/PA)
Jastine Valdez, 24, from Enniskerry (Garda Press Office/PA)

Rachel Farrell and PA Reporters

Residents of Enniskerry in Wicklow have spoken today of their shock at the suspected abduction and disappearance of Jastine Valdez.

Jastine Valdez, 24, from Enniskerry, was last seen being bundled into a Nissan Qashqai SUV near her home on Saturday evening.

Search teams have located a body on Monday afternoon, but no formal identification has taken place yet.

The suspect 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 R760 road on the outskirts of Enniskerry remains cordoned off by gardai on Monday afternoon as residents spoke of their shock at Ms Valdez's disappearance.

Local Sinn Fein TD John Brady said it's critical that anyone with any information contacts gardai.

He told "It's a shocking incident. I think everyone in the Bray and Enniskerry area is in complete shock.

"Everyone is still very hopeful that she is found safe. I've been speaking to the Filipino community and they really are in disbelief.

"I appeal to the public, if anyone has any information to contact Bray Garda station. It's critical we put the movements from the weekend together to find her. "

Bernard Cawley, 57, from Executive Dry Cleaners, said that Ms Valdez is a regular customer.

"She's very, very friendly, always smiling and laughing," he said.

"She's a lovely girl and always brings a smile to your face.

"Everyone is absolutely in shock and devastated by what's happened.

"The main thing for everyone in the village now is to hope she is found safe and well."

Sandra Archer, who runs a clothes shop in the village, said: "This area is so quiet normally, people leave their doors unlocked because there is no crime. I'm just shocked."

The man who was killed has been named locally as 40 year-old Mark Hennessy, from Bray, in Co Wicklow.

The Garda Siochana Ombudsman's Commission is investigating the shooting.

Ms Valdez is an accountancy student at IT Tallaght and is originally from the Philippines.

Mark Congdon, Honorary Consulate with the Philippine Consulate in Dublin, said that everyone is still hoping for a "positive outcome."

"I would like to offer my sincere thoughts and prayers for Ms Jastine Valdez and her family during this terribly difficult time, may we all deeply pray for a speedy and positive outcome."

He added that vigils will be held for Ms Valdez at 8pm at the Blessed Sacrament Chapel on Dublin's Batchelors Walk and also at the St Fergal's Church on the Killarney Road in Bray.

Anyone wishing to attend to offer their prayers for the family are very welcome.

Meanwhile, Culture Minister Josepha Madigan TD said today she was deeply shocked and saddened to learn that the body of a woman has been found in the Puck’s Castle area of south Dublin. The body has not yet been formally identified.

The Dublin Rathdown TD said; "The safety of women is of paramount importance. I’m horrified that a young woman has lost her in life in such terrible circumstances...

"I think it's important not to say too much about the case at this stage other than highlight what a tragedy it must be for the deceased lady’s family and friends.

"My sympathies are with the girl’s parents, her colleagues and of course the community as a whole.

"I would like to thank the public, the Gardaí, the Defence Forces and Civil Defence for their tireless work in this investigation."

Ms Valdez is described is being around 5ft and of slight build, with long black hair and brown eyes.

When last seen she was wearing a dark-coloured jacket, white T-shirt, grey leggings and running shoes.

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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