herald

Tuesday 16 October 2018

Kidnapper shot dead by gardai - but no sign of Jastine after dramatic manhunt

Emergency services at the scene of the shooting yesterday.
Emergency services at the scene of the shooting yesterday.

A Dublin builder suspected of abducting a 24-year-old woman in a random attack was shot dead by gardai during an armed stand-off.

A major search operation continued for missing Jastine Valdez last night amid grave concern for the young woman, who was last seen walking to her home in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow, on Saturday evening.

Mark Hennessy (40), a married father of two young children, was confronted in a car park in south Dublin yesterday evening following a massive manhunt.

A senior source told the Herald that he was armed with a knife when gardai approached him at the Cherrywood industrial estate.

It is understood that Hennessy threatened to self-harm and stab gardai, before he was shot and killed.

Random

However, despite the vehicle used in the abduction being recovered, gardai were unable to locate Ms Valdez last night.

Gardai were attempting to piece together Hennessy's movements since 5pm on Saturday, including a missing hour before he was shot in the Cherrywood car park which remains unaccounted for.

The kidnap suspect, who lived in Bray but was originally from Ballybrack, had told his wife that he was going out socialising on Saturday evening.

He has no obvious connections to Ms Valdez and her movements on the day she went missing were random, leading gardai to believe that the attack was completely unplanned.

Following a massive appeal for information, Hennessy was sighted at Killiney Dart Station yesterday afternoon.

When confronted by members of the public, he mounted a kerb and fled the scene at speed.

A massive manhunt was carried out for the suspect after student Ms Valdez was abducted on a roadway while returning from work in nearby Bray.

The large-scale investigation was carried out throughout yesterday until shortly after 8pm, when Hennessy was located at a car park in Cherrywood.

A large cordon remained at the scene last night, with dozens of garda units and paramedics in attendance.

A helicopter from the garda Air Support Unit also circled overhead.

The devastated family of the deceased gathered at the scene.

Ms Valdez (24) had still not been located last night by investigating gardai as concerns mounted for the young woman.

Detectives believe that Hennessy abducted Ms Valdez in a random attack. He was not previously known to gardai and had no connections to the victim. It is understood he worked as a self-employed building contractor.

"This appears to be a random abduction and there were no obvious connections between him and the missing woman," a source said.

A garda spokesperson said in a statement: "Gardai investigating the disappearance of Jastine Valdez interacted with the driver of a vehicle at approximately 8pm this evening in the Cherrywood area of Dublin.

"An official garda firearm was discharged. The incident has been referred to GSOC as per protocol.

"Gardai continue to appeal for Jastine Valdez and also for anyone who may have seen the movements of the 171 D Nissan Qashqai since yesterday to 8pm today, May 20, 2018."

Speed

Hennessy had not been seen at his home since the incident on Saturday evening and a description of the man and the Nissan Qashqai car he was driving when Ms Valdez was abducted was circulated to all garda stations.

Sightings of the car, registration number 171 D 20419, were reported yesterday in the Dalkey and Killiney areas before Hennessy was located.

Ms Valdez and her parents, who are from the Phillippines, have been living in Ireland for the past three years.

A student at Tallaght IT, she had got off a bus in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow, on Saturday evening and was walking home along Kilcroney Road, near the Powerscourt Estate, when the Qashqai pulled alongside.

The driver of the car pulled her into the vehicle and then drove off at high speed.

A woman and her young family spotted the incident as they walked home at 6.30pm and alerted gardai.

About an hour later, a man phoned gardai to say he had spotted a young woman in distress in a car on the N11, a short distance from where the abduction took place.

Gardai checked the area and set up a wider search for the car.

However, when Ms Valdez's parents contacted officers at 11pm on Saturday to report that she was missing, a large-scale investigation was launched.

A divisional search party was sent out at first light yesterday and officers found her mobile phone and a bag near where she had been abducted.

Members of the garda Technical Bureau carried out extensive searches of the R760 as part of the investigation.

Ms Valdez has been described as 5ft tall, slightly built with long, black hair and and brown eyes. When last seen, she was wearing a dark-coloured jacket, a white T-shirt, grey leggings and runners.

Gardai have appealed to anyone with information to contact them at Bray station, 01 6665300, or on the Garda Confidential Line (1800 666111).

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