Saturday 23 June 2018

Suspect in Jastine case shot dead as search for missing student intensifies

  • Gardai intensify searches for missing student Jastine Valdez
  • Armed garda kills married father-of-two (40) from Bray after manhunt
  • Gardai renew appeal for movements of black Nissan Qashqai registration 171 D 20419
Gardai at the scene in Cherrywood, Co Dublin, where Mark Hennessy (above right) was shot dead by gardaí hunting for abducted student Jastine Valdez (inset left). Photo: Arthur Carron
Gardai at the scene in Cherrywood, Co Dublin, where Mark Hennessy (above right) was shot dead by gardaí hunting for abducted student Jastine Valdez (inset left). Photo: Arthur Carron

Robin Schiller, Ken Foy, Tom Brady and Ian Begley

Searches are intensifying this morning for missing student Jastine Valdez after a father of two suspected of abducting the 24-year-old in a random attack has been shot dead by gardaí.

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

A senior source told the Irish Independent 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.

The black Nissan Qashqai driven by Mark Hennessy is surrounded by unmarked garda vehicles after he was spotted in Cherrywood and shot by armed officers. Photo: Arthur Carron
The black Nissan Qashqai driven by Mark Hennessy is surrounded by unmarked garda vehicles after he was spotted in Cherrywood and shot by armed officers. Photo: Arthur Carron

However, despite the vehicle used in the abduction being recovered, gardaí have still not being able to locate Jastine, a Filipino woman who lived in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow.

A large presence of gardai remained at the scene this morning.

Crime scene tape covered the entire perimeter of the carpark as investigating gardai assessed the scene in the bustling business hub of Cherrywood.

Additional, non garda resources, have been brought in to manage and divert traffic to alternative locations as the large carpark remains closed.

The incident has been referred to GSOC as per protocol.

People on their way to work stopped to observe the site and talked openly about the dramatic development that unfolded during the search for missing Jastine Valdez.

“It’s such an awful tragedy no matter what way you look at it,” said one passer-by.

“I just hope that poor girl is found alive and well – her family must be going through absolute hell,” he said.

A woman on her way to work told Independent.ie that she’s still very shaken by the incident.

“I really don’t know what to say – I’m just so shaken and disturbed by all of this."

A source told Independent.ie: "Searches are continuing this morning and are going to intensify, gardai are focusing between Killiney and Cherrywood areas but this may be expanded throughout the day.

"Gardai are becoming increasingly worried for her welfare."

Killiney Hill had been cordoned off by gardai as part of their search for Ms Valdez this morning but that restriction has since been lifted.

Garda also renewed their appeal this morning 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.

Gardai 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 believe the attack was completely unplanned.

The young 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.

A student at Tallaght IT, Jastine 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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