herald

Thursday 18 October 2018

Tragic Jastine's mum overcome with grief as friends pay tribute at wake

Jastine’s parents Teresita and Danilo Valdez outside the funeral home where their daughter lay
Jastine’s parents Teresita and Danilo Valdez outside the funeral home where their daughter lay
Jastine Valdez
Mourners gather to pay their respects
Mourners pay their respects

Jastine Valdez's mother was so grief-stricken that she had to receive medical treatment to help her cope yesterday.

An ambulance was called to the funeral home where her beloved only daughter was laid out in repose.

As the devastated Teresita Valdez arrived at the funeral home on the Boghall Road in Bray, Co Wicklow, shortly after 5pm, dressed in black and supported by a friend, her legs buckled under her as she walked to the door.

A friend rubbed her back in a bid to console her as she prepared to see her daughter laid out in an open casket.

Less than half an hour later, a small ambulance arrived and a paramedic went inside. It was followed by another, larger ambulance a short time later.

Paramedics spent a considerable time with Teresita before the ambulance finally departed, leaving the family alone to pray among their closest friends.

Fainted

It can only have compounded the grief of Teresita and her husband Danilo to know that the funeral home was mere metres away from where their daughter's killer, Mark Hennessy, had lived with his own family.

Jastine (24) lay in an open coffin and those who saw her mentioned, amid their grief, how beautiful and radiant she looked. She was dressed in a white blazer jacket and a pink scarf. It emerged some days ago that the heartbroken Teresita fainted several times after seeing the battered body of her daughter in the morgue.

Arrangements to have the young woman's body repatriated to her native Philippines are still under way but it is thought that she will be flown out early next week.

Earlier, her parents issued a poignant statement through the Consulate of the Republic of the Philippines, thanking the Irish public for its support.

They said they found some comfort in knowing "how deeply our beautiful daughter Jastine has affected the people of Ireland". Their daughter had planned to settle in this country, to buy a house here and to make a new life, they said.

They described her as "a fun-loving, wonderful, caring daughter and friend".

"She is always in our hearts and in the hearts of the people of Ireland," they added.

The family thanked gardai, the emergency services, Chief Superintendent Quirke, Superintendent Ward and especially their liaison officer, Garda Pat Mackey.

"They have acted with the utmost professionalism and speed to return our beautiful daughter Jastine to us," they said. The couple also acknowledged the support and sympathy of their family, friends, and the people of the Philippines, of Outreach Ireland, and both the Filipino and Irish Department of Foreign Affairs for their help and support. They paid tribute to Mark Congdon, consul for the Philippines, for his "wonderful help and support" at a "traumatic time".

Last night, Jastine's best friend described the young woman as "like a sister" to her, in an emotional tribute.

Jill Ordonez told the Herald she had known Jastine for 12 years and said she will always have great memories of her pal.

Ms Ordonez - who lives in the Philippines - said "I love her so much" when speaking about her friend, who was murdered last weekend.

The two friends had been inseparable back in the Philippines, before Jastine moved to Ireland around three years ago.

"This is hard for me since Jastine is not just a best friend to me but a sister," Ms Ordonez said. "I just want to thank her for the 12 years of laughter, sisterly love and true friendship.

"I'm sorry for not being there when this painful tragedy happened to her. I wasn't able to help her."

Gardai launched a search for Jastine last weekend after she was reported missing on Saturday evening. She was spotted being bundled into a black 4x4 in Enniskerry at around 6.15pm after getting off a bus that evening. Her body was found in a disused golf course in Rathmichael on Monday.

Abducted

A post-mortem revealed that she died of strangulation.

Hennessy, who abducted Jastine and killed her, was shot dead during a garda operation last Sunday. Because both Hennessy and Jastine are dead, there is no criminal inquiry. Instead, the garda investigation will inform the inquests.

The circumstances of Hennessy's death are also being investigated. The Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission has appointed a Cork-based team to look into the circumstances of Hennessy's death.

Hundreds of mourners arrived at the funeral home yesterday to pay their respects to Jastine and to support the family. Zito Agbon, a staff nurse at St James's Hospital, and his wife Maria arrived with a large candle which they said will be lit for Jastine at a Mass in the hospital.

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