An ‘obliging neighbour’ - and a serious drinker: Mark Hennessy according to those who knew him
Conflicting profiles point to a man whose life was spiralling out of control in recent weeks
Mark Hennessy who was shot dead by Gardaí in Cherrywood industrial estate last Sunday, photographed during the purchase of a Nissan Qashqai at Windsor Motors in Bray in September 2017.
Mark Hennessy, the man gardaí believe abducted and murdered Jastine Valdez, was a hard-working, quiet man, a good father to his children, and an obliging neighbour.
These apparently contradictory personality profiles emerge from people who knew him, or came across him in the weeks and hours surrounding last weekend’s horrific events.
Hennessy (40), a construction worker employed in the Tallaght area, was shot dead by a garda when he was confronted at the Cherrywood Industrial Estate, sandwiched between the N11 and the M50 in south county Dublin, on Sunday evening.
The previous evening, between 6 and 6.15pm just outside Enniskerry, Co Wicklow, he abducted Ms Valdez (24), bundling her into the car he was driving. Late on Monday morning, her body was found in the Rathmichael area; it is believed she had been strangled very soon after she was taken.
Hennessy grew up in Ballybrack but lived in Bray with his wife, Nicole, and their children, two girls – one believed to be aged three years, the other six to eight months.
To people who lived near the family, he appeared to be normal.
“He’d close the front gates and he’d play with the kids in the garden with a ball,” said one person on the Woodbrook Lawn estate off Boghall Road.
“He was just normal, doing like what normal people do. But God help [Ms Hennessy] and that other girl’s family. They’ve lost everything – she was an only child.”
A near neighbour described how Hennessy did normal, neighbourly things such as offering to assist clearing snow from the driveway, or sharing information about going away and making sure the house was secure.
“He was an obliging neighbour,” said one.
The family appeared like any other – Ms Hennessy, who came originally from the UK, is known to neighbours as a keen walker and a mother attentive to her children; Hennessy himself was a hard worker, sharing car lifts to his job in Tallaght with a colleague who lived close by.
He was said to be quiet and to keep to himself but was not cold or aloof, or otherwise odd in his approach to other people.
Neighbours remember that on the May bank holiday weekend, friends came over and children played in the garden.
But that weekend also provides evidence that not all was well with Hennessy.
To the many bars on Bray’s seafront, he was a known customer. On sunny evenings, or during local festivals and on bank holidays, several of the bars fill to overflowing.
A member of staff at one of the bars remembers Hennessy being in over the bank holiday weekend; scenes from his visit were captured and can be seen on social media.
“He was in here,” said the worker. “He was drunk. He was put out and he was put out of next door.”
A similar picture emerged from last Saturday when Hennessy went drinking in Ballybrack and watching football, left a pub, abducted and killed Ms Valdez, and then returned to the area for further drinking.
Hennessy grew up on the Cromlech Fields estate, on the western side of the Shanganagh Road in Ballybrack, much of it comprised of social housing. The eastern side is dominated by considerably more affluent areas of Killiney.
The two areas meet at the intersection of Shanganagh Road and Killiney’s Military Road where there is a post office, bookies, hair dressing salon, a petrol station, Centra, and several shops, pubs and cafes.
Hennessy and members of his wider family are well known customers of one of the pubs and were there on Saturday, and Hennessy is understood to have returned after having been to Enniskerry.
According to reports in several newspapers, he bought, or attempted to buy, cocaine in the Ballybrack area and spent the rest of Saturday night and into Sunday morning in his car – driving around south Dublin in a state of agitation, high on drugs or looking for drugs.
According to a source at the Shanganagh Road/Military Road intersection, Hennessy parked his car on Saturday evening at the Military Road side of the junction. The source says he was filmed on CCTV walking from the junction, north up Church Road to where there are a number of take away food outlets.
Two of the outlets say they do not recall Hennessy coming into them on Saturday night. Two others could not be contacted.
On Sunday at 4.40pm, gardaí trying to find Ms Valdez published the registration number of the Nissan Qashqai, which was in Nicole Hennessy’s name.
That evening, she and her children left their Bray home and are believed to be staying with members of her family outside Dublin.