Cold killer Marta Herda claimed victim Csaba Orsos stalked her '24 hours a day'
Prosecution proved clear case of murder, with car as the weapon, says Nicola Anderson
'I think he fell in love with me," Marta Herda told gardaí in the first statement they took. "I was never his girlfriend, but it was 24 hours a day. He came to my place, to my friends' places."
From the outset, the case appeared to be so patently straightforward that just hours after the incident, gardaí told reporters that "no arrests were expected to be made in the immediate future."
The primly pretty Polish waitress had been the person in the driving seat when the gold Volkswagen Passat plunged at speed off the south pier in Arklow town in Co Wicklow, smashing through metal railings at about 6am on March 26, 2013.
Herda, a strong swimmer, had somehow managed to get out of the car and swam to safety but Csaba Orsos (31), in the passenger seat, was unable to swim and drowned, his body subsequently washing up on the shore a few short kilometres away.
To the prosecution, it was a not-so-very-straightforward and yet clear case of murder, using a car as the weapon
But Herda went to work, manipulatively portraying the Hungarian waiter as a stalker, an obsessive bully who had put a tracker on her car, of whom she was fearful and who made her feel "scared and depressed."
"Csaba was a great lad, he was well-liked up at the hotel," said a young girl afterwards, who had worked with the pair at the hotel.
She claimed he had made no secret of the fact he was "mad" about Marta but they weren't in a relationship.
"He just kept telling her he wanted to go out with her and she kept saying she wasn't ready. They were still friends although not very close or anything, so we're all just baffled by this. It just doesn't make sense."
Whatever the status of the relationship between the pair, it was clear Orsos had developed an infatuation with Herta. A naïve Valentine's Card he sent to Herda in 2012 outlined each letter of her name in hearts and read very much like a missive from a lovestruck schoolboy.
"I'm ready to do anything for you. I can change all my bad habits for the way you wish. Millions of kisses," it said. "Thinking of you in every second. I love you Marta. I can promise that I will be the best husband and you will never regret it." He had written his mobile phone number and a smiley face was drawn before the final words: "I'm mad about you."
Herda's version was rather different. Orsos would watch her house and the houses of her friends, also following them, she claimed.
She said he used to text her and "put things on Facebook" in the course of their two years working together at tranquil BrookLodge Hotel in Aughrim, Co Wicklow.
She claimed to gardaí that, although she knew him only through work, he had known her before that - from coming to the restaurant when she went out for dinner with friends. He had even been able to tell her what clothes she was wearing, she said.
Herda claimed the Hungarian would talk about her to her colleagues.
"He tell them we have sex, but that's 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 told gardaí in hesitant English.
"The second year it no longer funny."
She claimed Orsos had followed her for the last two years and wherever she went - whether it was to the local supermarket or the airport, she would find him there, having apparently followed her. In the end, she claimed she had moved in with two friends because she claimed it was "safer" but when she told him to leave her alone, he told her that he could "see in her eyes that they would have children together."
Herda also suggested that she had told friends to contact the gardaí if she ever went missing for more than three days. The day before the incident, Orsos had followed her to a playground, where she had been minding her friend's children. That night, she went to the house of Viktor Szentesi, a male friend, and had a couple of glasses of wine with him. He drove her home in her own car and walked 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. She drove down Main Street with him beside her, as he felt her left leg.
"I was afraid," Herda claimed. "I feel I have enough of this," she said. "I drive to water. I cannot take this any more."
Afterwards, Dr Donal Bailey, who had treated her in hospital, 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."
In his Victim Impact Statement, Orsos's brother, Zoltan Sandro, who had also worked at the hotel, painted a very different picture of Csaba - a young man who "just wanted to be happy."
"Family, kids, things that everybody wants," he added.
It was clear Orsos thought he could share this future with Herda - and from the evidence during the trial, it seemed she had encouraged him in his dreams, having often pointed to the bride and grooms' seats at the Brooklodge, saying 'that will be us some day'.
"When I had to identify my dead brother, my heart teared apart because of the pain," Zoltan told the court.
He has dreamt of finding his brother on the beach, walking towards him, but then wakes up, cold and shaking. Zoltan did not have the heart to return to work, where everything would remind him of Csaba and resorted to picking up rubbish from a railway station just to earn money for food.
He now has a stable job but his family rarely speak of their brother. "Everybody is suffering in silence," he said.