Wicklow abduction: CCTV helped gardaí identify suspect

Woman contacted Gardaí after witnessing incident on road near Enniskerry

A video clip has emerged on social media showing Mark Hennessy on the day he purchased the SUV suspected to be the vehicle used in the abduction of Jastine Valdez. Hennessy was shot dead by gardai in Cherrywood Business Park on Sunday.

 

Among the ambulances, Garda cars, fire service and Civil Defence vehicles that had gathered in Cherrywood Business Park after 7pm last night was a black Nissan Qashqai.

The same vehicle had reportedly been involved in an apparent abduction of a woman on the R760, a country road leading from Kilmacanogue to Enniskerry, 25 hours earlier.

Gardaí were contacted by a female who claimed to have seen a woman, who gardaí later came to believe was Jastine Valdez, being bundled into a dark coloured SUV.

Some hours later the 24-year-old’s family reported her missing and concern grew. Another witness had reported seeing a distressed looking woman in a passing SUV which tallied with the earlier report.

A Garda search began early yesterday and Ms Valdez’s phone was soon found on the side of the road. Supt Paul Hogan said investigators thought it “unusual obviously for a young person to be without their mobile phone”.

“We are working very diligently to try find out where she is.” The search for the black SUV intensified.

Saturday had been a fine sunny day and the picturesque village of Enniskerry was jammed with traffic, with people visiting Powerscourt waterfall and other local beauty spots.

Yesterday morning on the edge of the village, just beyond the turn for the Summerhill Hotel on one side and the Powerscourt estate on the other, a Garda crime scene plastic tape barred the road to traffic.

“Everyone is shocked, just shocked,” said one businessman of the feeling in the village.

CCTV footage from along the R760 was reviewed. It assisted gardaí in identifying what they believed was the vehicle the witnesses had seen – a black Nissan Qashqai. The vehicle’s registration was checked and gardaí called to the owner’s home. A woman said her partner had taken the SUV on Saturday and had not returned.

Gardaí had issued a number of appeals regarding the missing person’s case to the media and later held a briefing at Bray Garda station where the registration number – 171 D 20419 – was confirmed and people were advised not to approach the vehicle. After the media scrum in Bray, the next point of focus was Cherrywood Business Park, between the N11 and M50.

Security worker Hanu Vasile works at the entrance to the estate and his job involves monitoring CCTV footage from across the campus. He said he saw a black SUV drive in, quickly followed by another vehicle, but did not know its significance at the time.

“It was a black jeep. I didn’t know anything about the news. One of my friends rang me and he told me...he told me about the kidnap. I didn’t know anything,” he said.

Shortly afterwards, Mr Vasile heard a loud bang. “I was here inside...I heard the gunshot,” he said. “I knew it was a gunshot, it was very noisy.”

It then emerged that the suspect in the case had been shot by a garda. He later died of his injuries. However, Ms Valdez remained unaccounted for.

One woman who lives in the locality said she came to the scene after reading about the incident online. The Qashqai was still at the scene, surrounded by emergency vehicles.

“Just as I got here I saw three ambulances going down the road, I assume with the man’s body,” the woman said.

“It’s terrible, I just hope they find the girl now.”