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Jastine Valdez's parents speak of never-ending grief at emotional inquest into daughter's killing

The jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing.

Jastine Valdez was killed last year after being abducted.
Jastine Valdez was killed last year after being abducted.
Image: Garda press

“OUR TEARS WILL never stop when we think of our beautiful Jastine.”

The parents of Jastine Valdez (24), abducted and killed in May 2018, said they long to hug her and talk to her.

“We miss her so much it is hard to bear,” Danilo and Teresita Valdez said in a statement following an inquest into their only child’s death at Dublin Coroner’s Court.

“We will never know why this happened. We will never understand how such evil can exist in the world. Our grief will never pass, the loss of our beautiful Jastine will never fade, we will never have peace.

Jastine was our life and when she was taken away, our world ended. We try to smile, but in our hearts we are still crying.

Jastine’s mother Teresita Valdez last saw her daughter alive on the morning of Saturday 19 May 2018 before she and Jastine’s father went to work.

She and Jastine exchanged messages throughout the day and she last heard from her daughter at 4.20 pm. She asked her to buy bread before making her way home to Enniskerry on the 5.40 pm bus.

“I was speaking to her on Facebook messenger, there were 63 messages between us that day, just general conversation and joking,” Teresita Valdez said.

Jastine, who was studying Accountancy at IT Tallaght and working part-time as a care assistant, had an appointment at 2 pm with an immigration officer at Bray Garda Station to have her residency permit renewed.

She went from the Garda Station to Ben Dunne’s Gym at Cherrywood Business Park. From there she went to the store to buy a loaf of bread.

Jastine took the 185 bus home from Bray at 5.40 pm and arrived in Enniskerry village at 6 pm. She had a 15-20 minute walk home from the village.

Joseph Squire had been dating Jastine since November 2017. In his deposition he described her as happy, active and innocent.

“She was always happy, active; she never got up to any mischief. She never took drugs; she was way too innocent for that.

“She was literally the most innocent person I ever met in my life and I will never forget her,” he said.

Jeep

The woman who saw Jastine being bundled into a dark Nissan Jeep at 6.10 pm that evening was driving on the R760 between the Powerscourt Estate and Enniskerry.

“I saw a car stopped on the road with no lights and no blinkers. The door of the boot was open. I heard shouting. She was sitting at the edge of the boot looking out at me. I saw an Asian face with dark hair. The shouting turned to screaming,” Susan Forsythe said.

“I heard a deep male voice shouting angrily. I began to feel there was something very wrong,” she said in a deposition read out in court.

Ms Forsythe pulled over and dialled 999.

At 6.20 pm another motorist saw Jastine in the back of the jeep as he was leaving Bray travelling towards the N11. Gareth Thompson told the court he was driving behind the jeep and thought it was a child in the back. He was not sure if she was gesturing or waving at him.

“I noticed a little girl waving. She had both hands up. She had a concerned look. She was sitting at an angle, it didn’t look comfortable,” he said.

He phoned Gardai at 7.22 pm.

3737 Valdez inquest_90584063 Parents of Jastine Valdez are supported by a representative from the Philippine Consulate. Source: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Gardai in Bray responded to the initial 999 call from Susan Forsythe. They found a shopping bag containing a loaf of bread and a smashed mobile phone at the scene where the abduction took place. Jastine’s parents wept in court as a picture of the recovered loaf of bread was shown to the jury.

The following morning, gardaí called to an address in Bray where the Nissan Jeep was registered. This was Mark Hennessy’s family home and the jeep was registered in his wife, Nicola Hennessy’s name. She did not know where he was.

Later that evening, following a press conference revealing details of the Garda search operation for the Nissan Qashqai, Christina Connolly was leaving work when she spotted a jeep that matched the description. Connolly called gardaí and relayed her location as she followed the jeep until it entered the car park at Cherrywood Industrial Estate

“I decided to follow him. He was looking in his rear-view mirror,” she said

Mark Hennessy was confronted by armed Gardai at this point, but Jastine was not in the jeep.

Gardaí searched the vehicle and found a bloodstained piece of paper. The only discernible written words were ‘Pucks Castle,’ an area in south east Co Dublin.

This became the focal point in the Garda search for Jastine. Her body was found at 3 pm on 21 May in thick gorse and undergrowth at Pucks Castle, Rathmichael, Co Dublin.

She was pronounced dead at the scene.

The cause of death was asphyxia due to manual strangulation and Pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan said death most likely occurred sometime on Saturday 19 May.

The pathologist found evidence of bruising and abrasions to the genital area. A toxicology report found evidence of a small amount of cocaine ingested within a couple of hours of death.

The jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing.

Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane described Jastine’s death as ‘thoroughly shocking’ and commended the parents’ dignity in their loss.

“The image of that beautiful young woman remains with us. It is inconceivable how her parents can bear the loss of their only child. We’ve had a glimpse of the person that Jastine was and it is tragic that she’s been so cruelly taken in this way,” the coroner said.

About the author:

Louise Roseingrave

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