Wednesday 28 September 2016

'I drove the car into the water' - Murder trial hears accused's alleged words to paramedic

Woman charged with murdering her colleague by driving him into a harbour, where he drowned

Natasha Reid

Published 07/07/2016 | 19:25

Murder accused Marta Herda Photo: Collins Courts
Murder accused Marta Herda Photo: Collins Courts

A woman charged with murdering her colleague by driving him into a harbour, where he drowned, told a paramedic: ‘He shouldn’t have been there. I drove the car into the water,’ her trial has heard.

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The paramedic was giving evidence to the Central Criminal Court yesterday on the second day of the 29-year-old’s trial.

Marta Herda of Pairc Na Saile, Emoclew Road, Arklow, Co Wicklow is charged with the murder of 31-year-old Csaba Orsas on March 26, 2013.

The Polish waitress has pleaded not guilty to murdering the Hungarian at South Quay, Arklow.

Paul Quinn testified that he was called to the quay around 6.15 that morning, where he met Ms Herda.

“She was soaking wet, distraught, cold and shivery,” he recalled. “There was white foam coming from her mouth.”

South Quay, Arklow (Photo: Google Maps), Inset left; murder accused Marta Herda; right, deceased Csaba Orsas
South Quay, Arklow (Photo: Google Maps), Inset left; murder accused Marta Herda; right, deceased Csaba Orsas

He said that he and his colleague treated her for hypothermia before taking her to hospital in Loughlinstown.

He said he tried to talk to her in the back of the ambulance during the 45-minute journey.

“She would repeat the name, Csaba. She was concerned,” he said. “Csaba was the passenger in the car.”

He was asked if she mentioned who was driving.

Marta Herda
Marta Herda

“Marta said she was driving,” he replied.

Mr Quinn said that she kept mentioning that Csaba ‘shouldn’t have been there’. He became concerned that there might have been an assault so he questioned her.

“She said: ‘He shouldn’t have been there. I drove the car into the water’,” he said.

A witness, who lived near the quay, testified that she was woken by a woman screaming that she had been raped.

Christina Byrne testified that she went outside once she heard the words: ‘Help. I’ve been raped’.

“I walked up to the top of the road,” she said, recalling that her neighbour had also gone out. “The girl seemed very upset… She was dripping wet.”

She was cross examined by Giollaíosa Ó Lideadha SC, defending, who thanked her for going out to help.

He put it to her that her neighbour, Maria Travers, had also thought that she had heard the word, rape, but had accepted under cross examination that the woman might not have said this.

“My own client can’t remember what she said,” he had told Ms Travers. “But there’s no suggestion that she was raped, so I suggest it may be possible she didn’t say that.”

Ms Travers agreed that it was possible because she didn’t speak Polish and because an echo in the area might have distorted the words.

“Would you accept the same thing?” he asked Ms Byrne.

“No,” she replied. “I’d be 100 per cent sure.”

He suggested that she wasn’t being honest when she said she was certain and asked if it was possible that she was mistaken.

“No,” she replied.

Mr Ó Lideadha had earlier indicated that the State’s case was that his client had lured Mr Orsas to his death. He was questioning the garda dealing with phone records.

Garda Michael Hall had collated records of calls and text messages between the accused, the deceased and some of their colleagues at the Brook Lodge Hotel in Aughrim.

A number of the calls were made between 5.20am and 5.37am that day.

He agreed with the barrister that the prosecution opened the case, saying that how the accused and deceased came to be together that morning may be of significance.

“So these are potentially important calls,” suggested Mr Ó Lideadha.

Garda Hall agreed.

“The prosecution case is that these are suspicious communications and the accused has effectively lured the deceased out to his death through these calls,” continued the barrister. “Isn’t that the case?”

However, Garda Hall said that all he could say was ‘what’s on the phone records’.

The jury also heard that the deceased man’s injuries were consistent with drowning.

State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy was giving evidence of the results of the autopsy she carried out on the deceased.

“There was abundant bloodstained froth in his airways,” she said. “His lungs were double the normal weight and overinflated. Their appearance was consistent with death due to drowning.”

The trial has now gone into legal argument before Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy. It will continue on Monday before the jury of eight men and four women.

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