Monday 24 October 2016

'I wanted this all to stop' - Woman who drove car into sea told gardai that man followed her for two years

Natasha Reid

Published 11/07/2016 | 17:52

Marta Herda Picture: Collins Courts
Marta Herda Picture: Collins Courts

A woman charged with murdering her colleague by driving him into a harbour, where he drowned, told gardai that she couldn’t take it anymore when he got into her car after spending two years following her, texting her and telling her he loved her.

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The waitress’s first garda statements were read to the Central Criminal Court on Monday on the fifth 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 woman has pleaded not guilty to murdering the Hungarian at South Quay, Arklow.

Garda Anthony Crehan testified that he travelled the hospital, where Ms Herda had been taken after swimming to safety from her submerged car. He took a voluntary statement from her there and took another at Arklow Garda Station that afternoon.

She said she hadn’t known the deceased until she began working at Brook Lodge Hotel two years earlier.

Drowning victim Csaba Orsas
Drowning victim Csaba Orsas

“I think he fell in love with me,” she said. “I was never his girlfriend, but it was 24 hours a day. He came to my place, to my friends’ places.”

She said he also used to text her and put things on Facebook.

She said later that, although she knew him only through work, he had known her before that.

“He told me he knew me from Brook Lodge restaurant when I went there for a meal with friends,” she explained. “He even remembered what clothes I was wearing.”

She said that he used to talk about her to her colleagues.

“He tell them we have sex, but that not true,” she said. “It got worse.”

She said that he used to sit beside her at work and wanted to hold her hand.

“People think this funny but not for me,” she said. “The second year it no longer funny.”

She said that management was aware of the problem due to him leaving his work to go to be with her.

“I once got angry with him but he like me angry. He like my eyes,” she said.

She said a friend had spoken to the deceased man’s brother in order to keep the deceased away from her and that she hadn’t answered his calls for the last three months.

“He also followed me in person the last two years,” she said, explaining that she had lived alone for the first year and that she would frequently see his car there.

She said that she used to make the taxi driver drive right up to her home and that she would run in the gate. She said she would then hear him banging the gate.

“I didn’t want to stay there,” she continued.

She said that she moved in with two friends, even though one of them was her former partner. However, it was safer, she said.

She said that she had told him to f**k off and leave her alone, but he told her that he could see in her eyes that they would have children together.

“I think he has GPS on my car,” she said, explaining that she would see him everywhere she went, whether it was Tesco or the airport.

She said she had told her friends to contact the gardai if she ever went missing for more than three days.

“He also follow my friends,” she said. “He buy them gifts… He watch their houses as well.”

She said she was scared and depressed.

She said that the day before the incident he had followed her to the playground, where she had been minding her friend’s children.

She said that she went to a friend’s house that night and had a couple of glasses of wine with him. That friend, Viktor Szentesi, had driven her home in her car before walking home.

“Csaba come to my car. He wanted to talk,” she said, adding that he had wanted her to take them to the beach.

“He was screaming at me,” she said. “He say ‘Motherf**ker Viktor ’.”

She said she drove down Main Street.

“He was feeling my left leg,” she said. “I was afraid.”

She said she remembered hitting the accelerator.

“I feel I have enough of this,” she said. “I drive to water. I cannot take this anymore.”

She said she recalled being under the water.

“I screamed his name. I saw ladder and got out,” she said.

She explained that the deceased had not hit her. He had grabbed her very hard once but she had pushed him.

“When I drove into the water, I wanted this all to stop,” she said.

“I didn’t want to tell the guards,” she explained. “You must remember that in Poland people don’t like police.”

The trial also heard from the doctor and nurses who treated her in hospital that morning.

Dr Donal Bailey testified that he had asked her if she knew what would happen when the car entered the water.

“She nodded and became tearful,” he said. “Her only answer to me was that she knew he couldn’t swim.”

Under cross examination by the defence, he agreed that she had difficulty with her tenses in English. He thought that she was saying retrospectively that she knew what would happen, not that she knew beforehand.

He agreed that this didn’t cause him to revise his conclusion that she had no homicidal intent.

Nurse Claire Best testified that she asked her if she had been hurt.

“She said she didn’t give him a chance,” said the nurse. “That he didn’t think she would do it and she knew he couldn’t swim.”

She confirmed under cross examination that the words, ‘He didn’t believe I’d do it’, were not in the notes she made that morning.

Under re-examination by the prosecution, she said: “From the moment I went into Marta, I felt that I would end up here today.”

The trial continues before Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and a jury of eight men and four women.

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