Suspect in Jastine Valdez case recalled as a ‘quiet man’

Mark Hennessy’s former neighbours express shock after he is shot dead by gardaí

Mark Hennessy, who was shot dead by gardaí on Sunday and believed to have abducted 24-year old student Jastine Valdez, was described as a "quiet man" by several people who knew him growing up.

Hennessy (40) worked in the construction industry and at the time of his death was living on the Woodbrook estate in Bray, Co Wicklow, with his wife and two children, aged eight months and two years.

Hennessy had two convictions dating to the late 1990s and the year 2000, when he would have been in his 20s and still living with his parents in Ballybrack.

He was convicted for abusive behaviour while intoxicated in a public place and fined. On another occasion he was convicted for possession of cannabis in St Stephen’s Green in Dublin city centre.


Just last week he had been before the courts to answer charges in relation to a drink-driving incident. He was charged with three offences: dangerous driving, drink-driving and failing to stop when he collided with another vehicle.

However, when the case came before the courts last Monday it was adjourned. He was due to appear again in early June.


In a somewhat bizarre twist, a video shot last September has emerged of him collecting his new car, the Nissan Qashqai he is believed to have used to abduct Ms Valdez.

The video was filmed, as a promo, by the south Dublin car garage from which Hennessy bought the car, though the vehicle was registered in the name of his wife. The garage shared the video on its social media feed, as it regularly does with customers picking up purchases.

The garage also published a follow-up photograph of Hennessy, this time with his wife, Nicola. The message explained the couple had been delayed in collecting their new car as Nicola had just given birth.

Gardaí said that Hennessy’s wife, who is from Holyhead, was puzzled and perplexed by what was unfolding after they came to her door on Sunday.

She thought he had gone out with friends. They were due to attend a family Communion with relatives on Sunday. Hennessy did not turn up. Hours later he was fatally wounded by gardaí.

Hennessy was originally from Cromlech Fields, a council estate in Ballybrack, south Co Dublin. On Monday, shaken relatives came and went from the house where he grew up and where his mother and father still live.

Most neighbours who remembered Hennessy described him as a “quiet young man” who came from a very “well-respected family”.

One man living several doors down from the family home said his son, who grew up with Hennessy, had said he was a “strange boy.”

Described as a “quiet boy” who kept to himself as a child, Hennessy was not one to stand out from the crowd. Another neighbour who lived near the family said that in recent years Hennessy would often be seen visiting his parents.

“He was a normal fellow. He would say hello as he passed. You would never suspect anything,” the neighbour said.

The small estate, located just off the Shanganagh Road, was built in the early 1980s and a lot of the homes were bought by young families from the wider south Co Dublin area.

‘Very well respected’

Several residents whose children would have been the same age as Hennessy growing up said their children had not been close friends with him. To them, he was just one of a large group of children they watched playing up and down the road over the years.

The family were “very well respected”, one that “you would never hear a bad word about” or anything untoward, one neighbour said.

“It’s a terrible tragedy for the family,” the neighbour said.

Several residents described both his father and mother as “lovely people” who would be private but very easy to get on with. Most locals said that, when they heard Hennessy had been shot dead after a pursuit by gardaí in the search for Ms Valdez, it was a “total shock”.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times