herald

Thursday 21 June 2018

'He punched a woman and dragged her into his boot' - witness tells packed bar

Gardai searching for clues in relation to Jastine Valdez’s abduction yesterday.
Gardai searching for clues in relation to Jastine Valdez’s abduction yesterday.

A shocked eye-witness ran into a pub in Enniskerry on Saturday evening and revealed she had just seen a man dragging a young woman into his car.

The "shaken" woman was visibly very upset as she told those inside of what is believed to have been the moment Jastine Valdez (24) was kidnapped.

"I think I've seen something terrible," the woman reportedly told the busy bar.

"A man stopped his car in front of me and punched a woman. He dragged her into his boot."

Shaken

A young man from the village relayed what the woman told the bar a short time after the incident at 6.15pm.

"She was really shaken, very upset," the man said, as he described the behaviour of the woman believed to have been an eyewitness in the abduction of Jastine.

Jastine (24) was reported missing by her Filipino parents on Saturday evening and investigators found her phone near the scene yesterday.

A friend of the apparent eyewitness was in the busy village yesterday afternoon. She appeared to be in an anxious state as she chatted with her pal on the phone.

The woman said her friend had been driving along the R760 road, south of Enniskerry, when the car in front "suddenly stopped" and a man "forced a woman who was walking along into his car".

The friend of the eyewitness would give no further details, but her husband said he hoped the woman would be found.

Jastine is an only child who was regularly in contact with both her mother and father - either by phone or social media.

Her lack of such contact with her family was described as highly unusual by gardai investigating her disappearance.

Jastine is single and wasn't apparently planning to meet a friend or anyone else after work.

Because of this, her parents alerted gardai as soon as they couldn't contact their daughter on Saturday night.

The Valdez family moved from the Philippines to Ireland three years ago.

The family settled in the idyllic village of Enniskerry, Co Wicklow and Jastine easily readjusted to her new life here, where she is an accountancy student.

To supplement her income it is understood that Jastine took up a part-time job in nearby Bray, Co Wicklow.

After work, she regularly walked the short journey from the bus stop to her home.

A worker at the popular Poppies cafe in the village square said her disappearance from the quiet, peaceful village near the Powerscourt Estate was "the talk of the town" yesterday.

The worker said he was shocked when he saw photos of the young Asian student in the media when reports of her disappearance emerged on Saturday.

Yesterday in the busy tourist village of Enniskerry, locals spoke of their fear at the abduction.

"It could have been anyone who took her," one local man said.

"We have so many tourists and strangers driving though here. But it's the fact someone came through here and took a young woman like that, that's just terrifying for everyone here."

Unbelievable

Another local man, David Owens, told the Herald he saw Ms Valdez almost every day.

The last time he spotted her was during the week.

"She'd get a bus from here then off to wherever she was going. And then I'd see her other days with her mother and father. She only lives out the road. I think her parents work up there.

"It's unbelievable. The family have only lived here a couple of years.

"She speaks English but the family aren't from here. I know this place well and know everyone in it.

"I work on the roads here and I saw her regularly.

"You'd notice her because she was very small and dainty, a very shy girl.

"I'd see her in a uniform too. I think she works in a restaurant in Bray.

"And though she is shy, her parents would always say hello to you.

"I really hope she's found because she is a nice, young girl and everyone is worried for her."

The young student was not known by most people in Enniskerry.

It seemed that while she had walked through the village every day and had taken the road home, most were not personally familiar with her.

"She doesn't socialise here, she doesn't go out into the pubs, she just lives out the road with her parents and lives a quiet life," one local worker said.

"I'm telling my staff to think about safety and to call taxis," a cafe worker said.

Gardai cordoned off the road where the abduction is thought to have taken place.

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