It is no com­fort to know that nearly 90pc of the 216 women who have died vi­o­lently in Ire­land since 1996 knew their killers — and over half of the per­pe­tra­tors are part­ners or ex-part­ners

Irish Independent - Weekend Review - - FRONT PAGE - AN ONLY CHILD

es­tate ex­plains why he was not that well-known in the Bray area. He was a much more fa­mil­iar fig­ure in the South Dublin sub­urb of Bally­brack, where he grew up on the Crom­lech Fields coun­cil es­tate. It is a close-knit com­mu­nity close to the af­flu­ent sub­urb of Killiney.

The fam­ily, who still live in the area, were de­scribed by neigh­bours as “well re­spected” this week.

The fa­ther-of-two, who only had a sec­ond child in re­cent months, was not known to gar­daí in re­cent years for be­hav­iour that marked him out as a man li­able to com­mit ex­tremely vi­o­lent crimes. But he had come to their at­ten­tion re­cently.

He had pre­vi­ous con­vic­tions dat­ing back to his early 20s.

In 1999, he was con­victed of drugs pos­ses­sion af­ter be­ing found with £100 worth of cannabis in St Stephen’s Green. That was un­re­mark­able.

But he had shown signs of an ag­gres­sive ten­dency when he was in his early twen­ties. In Septem­ber 2000, he was charged with a pub­lic or­der of­fence in Rath­mines, Dublin.

Dur­ing that in­ci­dent he was re­ported to have head­but­ted an­other cus­tomer in a pub.

He was later con­victed of threat­en­ing and abus­ing be­hav­iour as well as be­ing drunk and dis­or­derly and he was fined €250. While he es­caped the at­ten­tion of gar­daí for a num­ber of years and ap­peared to have set­tled down, re­cently he had been in trou­ble again. Hen­nessy ap­peared in court just last Mon­day to face a num­ber of charges re­lat­ing to drink-driv­ing and leav­ing the scene of an ac­ci­dent.

This re­lated to an in­ci­dent in Bray in Septem­ber of last year, when he crashed into an­other mo­torist.

The con­struc­tion worker was due to ap­pear again in Bray district court again on June 11 to face the mu­sic for these mo­tor­ing of­fences.

While the charges may have been mi­nor in the con­text of the vi­o­lent crime he went on to com­mit, it was a sign that his be­hav­iour was be­com­ing more er­ratic in re­cent months.

He was said to have had a se­ri­ous drink and al­co­hol prob­lem in re­cent months. It emerged in the mid­dle of this week that he had been ejected from at least one pub on Bray seafront over the May Bank Hol­i­day week­end.

The re­ports that he had ready ac­cess by tele­phone to a drug dealer and was look­ing for co­caine af­ter the mur­der in­di­cate that he may have used the drug on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

As with so many re­cent per­pe­tra­tors of vi­o­lent crimes, Hen­nessy left an eerie video record of a cou­ple of brief episodes in his life, and these cir­cu­lated on so­cial me­dia this week.

In one stilted video, filmed in a car showroom, he is shown com­ment­ing on the new Nis­san Qashqai that the fam­ily had just bought. It was to be used by his wife.

He tells one of the showroom staff that the car is “ab­so­lutely beautiful... It drives re­ally well”.

It is the car that he used to carry out the ab­duc­tion of Jas­tine Valdez — and where he met his end just a few months af­ter buy­ing the car.

In an­other video filmed in a pub, he ap­pears drunk, jok­ing with two women at the bar. Per­haps one looks at these videos dif­fer­ently in the light of the killings, but be­hind the smiles and the ap­par­ent good hu­mour, there is a cold va­cant look in his eyes. In the pub video there is also a feel­ing of a man out of con­trol. Former de­tec­tive Alan Bai­ley said in­ves­ti­ga­tors will try to gauge whether Hen­nessy went out in­tend­ing to do what he did last Satur­day even­ing, or whether it was a spur-of-the-mo­ment at­tack.

They will look at the sig­nif­i­cance of him tak­ing his wife’s car to carry out an ab­duc­tion.

Bai­ley said Larry Mur­phy, who was con­victed af­ter at­tack­ing a wo­man in Car­low in 2001, also drove his wife’s car. Ac­cord­ing to the de­tec­tive, a child seat or toys thrown on the back of the car could be de­signed to make a mo­torist seem more in­nocu­ous.

Foren­sic psy­chol­o­gist Pa­trick Ran­dall said Hen­nessy’s be­hav­iour on the even­ing of the mur­der in­di­cate a chaotic and dis­turbed state of mind, and an ab­sence of clear plan­ning.

“One thing that is strik­ing is the num­ber of wit­nesses,” says Ran­dall.

On the even­ing of the ab­duc­tion and mur­der, wit­nesses — in­clud­ing a 12-year-boy — re­ported see­ing a wo­man be­ing punched by a male and then forced into the car along Kil­croney Road.

There were re­ports of Hen­nessy driv­ing his Nis­san around the area like a “rally car”, and a re­port came in to gar­daí at 7.15pm from a man who said he saw a wo­man in a dis­tressed state in the back of an SUV.

“This was not well planned or or­ches­trated,” says Ran­dall. “There was no re­gard for the fact that there were so many peo­ple around who could see what was hap­pen­ing.

“It seems that he was driven by a frenzy where the red mist had de­scended, and the prim­i­tive brain had taken over.”

Af­ter grab­bing Jas­tine in En­niskerry, Hen­nessy may have pan­icked and stran­gled her sooner than he had planned in or­der to stop her draw­ing at­ten­tion to the car.

He dumped her body in an area cov­ered with gorse in the grounds of a dis­used golf course along Puck’s Cas­tle Lane.

Jas­tine was an only child and had moved to Ire­land from the Philip­pines three years ago. She was a stu­dent at the In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy, Tal­laght, where she stud­ied ac­coun­tancy, and seemed to have a bright fu­ture ahead of her.

Hen­nessy met his end just over 24 hours af­ter the killing, when he was cor­nered by gar­daí. A sin­gle bul­let from a garda weapon hit him in the shoul­der but then en­tered his torso caus­ing fa­tal in­juries. He was sit­ting in the front seat at the time and had a Stan­ley knife.

In a mov­ing vigil for Jas­tine on Tues­day even­ing, Filipino Bong Men­dez urged the crowd to “pray for Jas­tine and Mark’s fam­i­lies”.

This is likely to be one of those crimes that leaves a per­ma­nent im­print on pub­lic con­scious­ness.

It is al­most for­got­ten now that un­til the 1990s, women and men felt safe enough to hitch-hike along Ir­ish coun­try roads.

But ac­cord­ing to re­tired de­tec­tive Alan Bai­ley, this feel­ing of safety changed rad­i­cally af­ter a spate of cases of miss­ing women — in­clud­ing the dis­ap­pear­ance of Kilkenny wo­man Jo Jo Dullard in 1995.

Women may now feel less safe walk­ing along our roads, even dur­ing the day­time.

Rather than re­strict­ing the move­ment of women night and day along city streets and coun­try roads, it may be time to go the heart of the mat­ter and ad­dress the real prob­lem of male vi­o­lence.

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