Wednesday 26 September 2018

Trawl of DNA database fails to link killer Mark Hennessy to any unsolved murders or sexual assaults

Hennessy (40) was shot dead by a garda detective on May 20, around 24 hours after he abducted and murdered Jastine Valdez (24).
Hennessy (40) was shot dead by a garda detective on May 20, around 24 hours after he abducted and murdered Jastine Valdez (24).

Ken Foy

TWISTED killer Mark Hennessy is not linked to any other murders or other serious crimes, gardai have established after a lengthy trawl of the DNA database.

Hennessy (40) was shot dead by a garda detective on May 20, around 24 hours after he abducted and murdered Jastine Valdez (24).

For weeks specialist officers have been comparing Hennessy’s DNA in an attempt to establish connections between him and any other serious crimes, including unsolved murders and sex assaults.

No such link has been found, and a senior source told Independent.ie that the abduction and murder of Jastine is being treated as “hugely out of character” for the killer.

The late Jastine Valdez
The late Jastine Valdez

“There was nothing in his background to suggest that he would carry out such a crime and there is no evidence at all linking him to any other serious crime, as the DNA database has come back with nothing,” the source said.

Hennessy was not known to gardai for any serious criminal behaviour.

However, he had three previous convictions dating back to his early 20s.

In 1999, he was convicted of simple drugs possession after being found with IR£100 of cannabis.

In September 2000, he was charged with a public order offence in Rathmines.

The DNA database introduced in 2014 is used to match crime scene profiles during garda investigations as well as identifying missing and unknown persons.

Gardai have still not received toxicology and other reports in relation to the murder, which is classified as being “detected”.

It has also emerged that Hennessy’s devastated Welsh wife and mother of his two children has left Ireland and is now based in the UK with her children at her sister’s home.

Sources revealed that the woman, who co-operated fully with the garda investigation, has “no interest” in being given back the car in which her husband was shot dead.

During a stand-off with two gardai, including an armed detective, he was shot once in the shoulder as he sat in the black Nissan Qashqai which he had used to abduct Jastine.

The bullet ricocheted into his abdomen, causing fatal injuries.

A Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission investigation is under way into the circumstances surrounding his death.

Officers were alerted to the location of Jastine’s body when they discovered a heavily bloodstained note in Hennessy’s car after he was shot dead by a south Dublin detective in Cherrywood Business Park on the evening of May 20.

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

It is believed she was manually strangled within an hour of being kidnapped and her clothes were “disturbed” in the attack.

After the murder, Hennessy went to a pub in his native Ballybrack and tried to procure cocaine before driving around south Dublin for a number of hours in a frantic state as gardai closed in on him.

More than 300 relatives and friends of popular IT Tallaght student Jastine paid their respects at her funeral last week in her native Philippines.

Teresita and Danilo Valdez were the chief mourners at the funeral of their only child, which took place in Banganan, a small village within the town of Aritao.

The service began at 7am local time on Monday of last week, with Jastine’s body brought to St Joseph’s Catholic Church. Fr Nilo Ogaya was the chief celebrant at the Mass, which lasted just over an hour.

Afterwards, Jastine’s body was taken in a white coffin to the nearby cemetery where she was laid to rest.

Mourners released white balloons in her memory.

Relatives and close friends spent time remembering happy moments they shared with her, while some expressed their anger at Jastine’s murder.

Local people described the young woman’s funeral service as “highly emotional”, with Teresita collapsing twice during the Mass. She was tended to by first aiders.

After the burial, relatives and friends were invited to Jastine’s family home village for lunch.

Meanwhile, latest figures for the DNA database show that it contains 14,843 convicted offenders and suspect profiles and 3,978 crime stain profiles as well as 1,488 elimination profiles.

By the beginning of this year, a total of 739 cases had been aided by the operation of the DNA database.

The database was established under the Criminal Justice (Forensic Evidence and DNA Database System) Act 2014, known as the DNA Act.

One of its purposes is to match a DNA profile from an individual to an unidentified crime scene profile obtained in the course of a criminal investigation, or – where there is no match – to eliminate all individuals on the database as potential suspects.

It was reported yesterday that only 1,292 of the 2,000 people convicted and listed on the sex offenders register in Ireland have come forward to provide a DNA sample for the State’s database, even though they are legally obliged to do so.

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