Belfast Telegraph

Garda probe killer's use of dating apps and websites

By Ken Foy

Police in the Republic are investigating whether twisted killer Mark Hennessy was using dating apps and websites and even if he had attempted to contact his victim online.

A massive probe was still continuing last night in Co Wicklow into the brutal murder of tragic Jastine Valdez (24).

A phone which had been "broken up" by Hennessy is said to be central to the investigation.

Officers last night also officially appealed for information about Ms Valdez's blue shoulder bag which contained an Apple mini iPad. Gardai believe this device may have details crucial to their investigation.

Intensive searches continued yesterday near Puck's Lane Castle, close to where Ms Valdez's body was found on Monday afternoon.

"Of course trawling through social media is playing a major part in this investigation. And yes dating websites and all kinds of internet activity is being examined by investigators," a senior source said last night.

"Gardai have the suspect's laptop and his damaged phone as well as other devices.

"They now need to examine her iPad and this might finally come to some kind of closure. It has been very difficult for all involved," the source added.

A post-mortem exam showed the student had been strangled, but Gardai do not know yet if she was sexually assaulted before she was murdered.

Officers took the step last night of issuing a photo of her bag in a bid to track it down.

"We are particularly interested in the whereabouts of a blue shoulder bag and an Apple Mini iPad belonging to the victim," a garda spokesperson said last night.

"We are continuing our appeal for information regarding the movements of the black Nissan Qashqai, registered number 171 D 20419, and the driver of this vehicle Mark Hennessy, between 5pm on Saturday, May 19, and 8pm on Sunday, May 21."

Hennessy was fatally shot in the shoulder by a highly respected detective in Cherrywood Business Park in south Dublin on Sunday night after he threatened an unarmed garda with a knife.

This has led to an investigation by the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) who released information about the tragedy last night.

Hennessy's death was caught on camera footage from a garda traffic car at the scene.

A spokesperson for GSOC said: "A garda service weapon was recovered from the scene by GSOC. The remaining ammunition and one spent cartridge was located in the firearm.

"A Stanley knife was subsequently recovered from the vehicle, the Nissan Qashqai, which had been the subject of a garda alert in the preceding hours."

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