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Gardai issue fresh appeal over student murder suspect

UK News | Published:

Mark Hennessy was shot dead by an officer in a confrontation on Sunday evening.

Detectives in Ireland are trying to piece together a murder suspect’s last night alive amid claims he went out socialising hours after abducting and killing a student.

Mark Hennessy, 40, was shot dead by a Garda officer south of Dublin on Sunday night, a little over 24 hours after he is suspected of kidnapping and murdering 24-year-old Jastine Valdez in an apparent random attack in Co Wicklow.

A body believed to be that of Ms Valdez was discovered in thick undergrowth in the Puck’s Castle area of Co Dublin on Monday afternoon.

Gardai investigating the killing issued a fresh appeal for information on Tuesday, urging anyone who might have seen father-of-two Hennessy, from Bray in Co Wicklow, out in pubs and restaurants on Saturday night.

Ms Valdez, an accountancy student originally from the Philippines, was last seen being bundled into a Nissan Qashqai SUV (reg 171 D 20419) thought to be driven by Hennessy near her home in the village of Enniskerry on Saturday evening.

The suspect was shot dead by an officer in a confrontation on Sunday evening after gardai traced that Nissan to the Cherrywood business district south of Dublin.

The Garda appeal came as an online initiative to raise funds for Ms Valdez’s family exceeded 50,000 euro in less than 17 hours. On Tuesday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar described her death as “senseless and brutal”.

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On Tuesday evening, hundreds of people attended a vigil in Enniskerry to remember the murdered student.

Members of the local Filipino community were among those who gathered to pay tribute to Ms Valdez and pray for her family at the solemn event.

Gardai described Hennessy as 176 cm (5ft 9in), of slight build and balding. He was wearing a dark coloured t-shirt, blue jeans and grey runners during the time period in question.

Flowers on Puck's Castle Lane in Rathmichael, Co Dublin (Donall Farmer/PA)
Flowers on Puck’s Castle Lane in Rathmichael, Co Dublin (Donall Farmer/PA)

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“The car may have stopped at restaurants, cafes, petrol station shops or bars in those areas.

“If you travelled in this part of county Dublin between Saturday and Sunday evenings and you have a dash cam fitted please contact us and make the footage available to investigators. “

Ireland’s police watchdog, the Garda Siochana Ombudsman’s Commission, is investigating the incident that led to Hennessy being shot dead.

The fundraising campaign was launched by Outreach Ireland, an organisation that works with the country’s sizeable Filipino community.

Gardai in the Puck’s Castle area after a body was found in the search for missing Jastine Valdez (Donall Farmer/PA)
Gardai in the Puck’s Castle area after a body was found in the search for missing Jastine Valdez (Donall Farmer/PA)

“Born in the Philippines she came to Ireland to study and to join her parents who are now naturalised Irish citizens. Both parents work and are active in the community.

“This page was set up to facilitate all of those who wish to offer support and sympathy to the family of Jastine Valdez following her devastating death.

“The Valdez family have lost their only child, they are facing a situation that no person on this earth should have to face. They are parents saying goodbye to their child.”

It added: “Any and all funds raised on this page will go directly to the parents of Jastine Valdez to help them in the weeks and months ahead.”

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