Gardaí to check for links between Hennessy and unsolved cases

DNA profile of killer to be checked against database for links to unsolved sex crimes

Jastine Valdez was murdered, probably by strangulation, on Saturday evening shortly after being abducted from a Co Wicklow roadside, gardaí believe.

Witnesses have reported seeing the Nissan Qashqai she was bundled into being driven "like a rally car" around the area where her remains were found in Rathmichael, south Co Dublin, yesterday, within 40 minutes of her abduction.

A note was found in the car, possibly connected to the planned suicide of her killer.

Ms Valdez, a 24-year-old student from the Philippines, had come to Ireland three years ago. Her parents have also been living here.


Garda sources said the DNA profile of her killer, Mark Hennessy (40), will now be crosschecked on the DNA database for any links to unsolved historical or recent sex crimes.

A review is also set to be carried out into Hennessy's life to establish if he may be linked to any cases in which women vanished without trace in Leinster over the last 20 years.

They include Fiona Pender, Deirdre Jacob, Annie McCarrick, Jo Jo Dullard, Fiona Sinnott, Eva Brennan and Ciara Breen.

DNA samples were also gathered during the investigation into the murder of Raonaid Murray (17) in Glenageary, south Dublin, in 1999. It will be among the cases Hennessy's profile is checked against.

Hennessy was a construction worker from Ballybrack, south Dublin, but was living with his wife and two infant children in Bray, Co Wicklow. His youngest child is eight months old.


Garda sources said what appears to be the sexually motivated abduction of Ms Valdez was highly unlikely to be a first-time violent offence.

Given the witness accounts of his driving, they believe he may have panicked and killed his victim more quickly than planned before dumping her remains to conceal his crimes.

There is no known link between Ms Valdez and Hennessy. Ms Valdez lived in Enniskerry, studied accountancy in Tallaght IT and worked part-time in a Bray restaurant. It was unclear if Hennessy frequented that restaurant.

The postmortem on the remains of Hennessy, who was shot by an armed garda on Sunday evening, was expected to show whether he was under the influence of intoxicants.

Ms Valdez was seen being assaulted and forced into a Nissan Qashqai on the R760 near Enniskerry just after 6pm on Saturday.

Gardaí believe that the car, owned by Hennessy’s wife Nicola, was being driven by him at the time. They believe he drove to the area at Puck’s Castle, Rathmichael, and tried to conceal Ms Valdez’s remains in thick gorse after killing her.

There were no obvious sign of injuries on her body, though she was clothed and her clothes may have concealed injuries.

Witnesses came forward on Saturday evening; one telling gardaí they had witnessed the abduction of a woman just outside Enniskerry and another claiming they had seen a woman in distress being carried as a passenger in a Nissan 4x4.

It was not until Ms Valdez’s parents reported her missing at about 11.30pm on Saturday that Gardaí knew the identity of the woman at the centre of the eyewitness reports.

CCTV was used to establish the registration of the Qashqai. And after that registration was shared with the public via the media the vehicle was spotted in Cherrywood, south Co Dublin, at about 8pm on Sunday.

When armed gardaí approached the car a confrontation with Hennessy ensued and a garda shot him dead.

The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission is investigating, with one line of inquiry that Hennessy ran at gardaí with a knife. However, the circumstances have not been not confirmed.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times