Jastine Valdez moved to Ireland from the Philippines three years ago to join her parents Danilo and Teresita Valdez who had come here in the 1990s for work. She studied accounting and finance at Tallaght Institute of Technology in Dublin and worked part-time as a carer and waitress. The family lived in a cottage on the grounds of Charleville House where Danilo is a greensman and Teresita is the housekeeper. Charleville House is situated on the R760, one of the main roads leading into Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow.
On Saturday morning of May 19th, 2018, 24-year-old Jastine set off from her home to travel to Bray. At 5.40pm, Jastine boarded the 185 bus and set off home from Bray town. Shortly before 6.15pm, close to the entrance to the Powerscourt Estate, Jastine got off the bus to start her walk home.
A woman who was driving by saw a man forcibly bundle Jastine into the boot of a Nissan SUV. At 6.24pm she dialled 999. A second witness saw a distressed woman in the back the SUV and when he returned home around 7.20pm called the Gardaí. Later another witness came forward stating that at 6.50pm he saw the SUV driving erratically around six kilometres from Enniskerry. Three patrol cars and a helicopter were dispatched. By 3am that night, the Gardaí had identified a man called Mark Hennessy as their prime suspect.
On the Saturday of Jastine’s murder, Hennessy joined a group to watch the first half of the FA Cup Final in the Ramblers Rest pub in Ballybrack. He was reported as acting normal and didn’t seem drunk, with one of the patrons stating that he didn’t even buy a drink. At 5.43pm he drove from the parking lot and within half an hour he was driving behind the 185 bus that was carrying Jastine Valdez. It is reported that after the murder, Hennessy returned to a pub to drink for the evening.
At 8pm Sunday evening the Gardaí found Hennessy who was sitting in his car in Cherrywood Business Park. Out of concern for the suspects actions, the Gardaí fired a shot at Hennessy but the bullet however, ricocheted off his shoulder fatally wounding him. Shortly before the shots were fired, Hennessy rang his wife from a ‘burner phone’ to say that he had done something terrible. Inside the car they found Hennessy covered in blood from self-inflicted injuries and a note which had the words ‘sorry’ and ‘Puck’s Lane’ written on it. Puck’s lane was the road on which Hennessy was seen driving erratically around 6.50pm Saturday evening. This note led to the discovery of Jastine’s body at Puck’s Castle in Rathmichael, Dublin.
Mark Hennessy came from a large, respected family and was married with two young daughters. Friends of Hennessy described him as a happy-go-lucky guy who never caused trouble and would never complain about anything. Hennessy however did have convictions for public order and drug offences and was facing an upcoming drink-driving charge. No evidence was found to imply that he knew Jastine, but Gardaí did not rule out the possibility that he had stalked her or had seen her before. Hennessy’s DNA was run through a database to search for possible matches taken from other crime scenes.
Unfortunately, these sad and harrowing events have left many victims. Jastine, who will never reach her full potential, Jastine’s family who will never see their loved and cherished daughter grow up, and Hennessy’s wife and children who have had their world turned around and lost a husband and father.
While we may never know what compelled Mark Hennessy to commit this crime, we must remember that we do not know what is going on in someone’s mind or behind closed doors. We must remain vigilant that someone’s behaviour change may be a subconscious cry for help and that this person may need support or help before they endanger themselves or someone else.