Thursday 29 September 2016

Waitress murdered colleague by driving car into sea, court is told

Natasha Reid

Published 06/07/2016 | 02:30

Accused woman Marta Herda Picture: Collins
Accused woman Marta Herda Picture: Collins

A Polish waitress murdered her colleague by driving a car into a deep harbour with him in the front passenger seat, a court has been told.

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The prosecutor told the jury that Marta Herda (29) could swim and knew that the deceased could not when she drove her car through the crash barriers at South Quay, Arklow, Co Wicklow

Ms Herda, with an address at Pairc Na Saile, Emoclew Road, Arklow, has pleaded not guilty to murdering 31-year-old Csaba Orsas on March 26, 2013.

Brendan Grehan SC, prosecuting, opened the case to the Central Criminal Court yesterday. He said the State's case was that the deceased, a Hungarian, was the front-seat passenger in a car that was deliberately driven over the harbour and into the sea shortly before 6am.

The car being pulled out of the sea
The car being pulled out of the sea

It is the prosecution case that Marta Herda was the driver.

Mr Grehan explained that the incident happened at the harbour wall in Arklow, where the Avoca River flowed into the sea.

"It's tidal, fast-flowing, very deep water that allows large boats to come in," he said.

Mr Grehan said the road leading to the water was "almost like a runway in terms of its dimensions".

There was a barrier at the end of this to prevent cars driving into the sea, as well as an electrical box in the centre, also protected by a barrier.

"The evidence will show that the car drove through both barriers into the sea," he said.

Drowning victim Csaba Orsas
Drowning victim Csaba Orsas

"The prosecution says it had to be driven at great speed."

The jury was told that Ms Herda was taken to hospital and her car was recovered from the water, but Mr Orsas's body was found on a beach 3km away at lunchtime.

A post mortem found he died due to drowning and not due to injuries from the crash.

"The objective evidence suggests that Marta Herda, in a deliberate act, drove through those barriers," said Mr Grehan.

"The driver's window was down, Marta Herda could swim, the deceased could not and Marta Herda was aware of that."

Harbour

The deceased lived at Brookview Court in Arklow and worked at the Brook Lodge Hotel in Wicklow. Ms Herda had been working as a part-time waitress at the same hotel.

Mr Grehan said that one matter in particular would stand out for the jury: how the deceased came to be a passenger in her car shortly before 6am. He said the jury would hear telephone evidence.

Security guard Gavin Nolan testified that he was working at a factory at Arklow harbour that morning and began a patrol at 5.40am as dawn was breaking.

"I heard a vehicle coming from the town," he said. "You could tell it was at high speed."

He was entering a building around this time.

"Three to four minutes passed," he explained. "I heard a noise. It started faintly and gradually grew into a screaming noise from a female."

He then saw a woman running and he rang the gardaí.

"She was very, very distressed. Her clothes were tight to her skin as if (she had been) in the water," he said.

Garda Fiona Furlong testified that she and a colleague had responded to the call and found the woman a short distance away.

"She was soaking wet, frothing from the mouth and shaking," she said.

"She repeated: 'He's in the water. You have to help,' and pointed towards South Quay."

The trial is expected to last three weeks before Mr Justice McCarthy and a jury of eight men and four women.

Irish Independent

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