Sunday 25 February 2018

'I feel I have enough, I drive to the water': accused told gardai

Trial hears drowning victim was in love with the Polish waitress accused of his murder, writes Natasha Reid

Marta Herda (29) at the Central Criminal Court where she pleaded not guilty to the murder of Csaba Orsos. Photo: Collins Courts
Marta Herda (29) at the Central Criminal Court where she pleaded not guilty to the murder of Csaba Orsos. Photo: Collins Courts

Natasha Reid

Security guard Gavin Nolan was used to seeing boy racers speeding along Arklow's harbour during his night shift. Shortly before 6am on March 26, 2013, he heard "pedal-to-the-floor stuff".

When he went outside, he expected to see a car, but there was none there. A few moments later, he saw a woman running. She was saturated and screaming.

This was Marta Herda. The Volkswagen Passat she was driving went into the water from the harbour at the South Quay. She escaped through the driver's window.

A colleague, who was in love with her, was in the passenger seat. He couldn't swim and after she emerged from the water she ran for help.

His body was found on a nearby beach that afternoon. He had drowned and Ms Herda is now on trial for murder.

The 29-year-old was arraigned before the Central Criminal Court earlier this month, charged with the murder of 31-year-old Hungarian waiter Csaba Orsos that Tuesday morning. The Polish waitress, with an address at Pairc Na Saile, Emoclew Road, Arklow, Co Wicklow, has pleaded not guilty.

The trial, which will enter its ninth day tomorrow, has heard that both worked at the Brook Lodge hotel in Aughrim.

A number of witnesses testified that the deceased was in love with the accused but that she didn't feel the same way.

The jury was shown a card he sent her in May 2012 in which he said that she was the girl he was looking for and that he wished to share his life with only her.

He said he was ready to do anything for her and that he could change his bad habits. He said he could promise to be "the best husband".

His final words were: "I'm mad about you."

The jury was also shown a video of Mr Orsos's birthday celebration in July 2012. Ms Herda could be seen sitting next to him as he blew out the candles on his cake.

Ms Herda gave two voluntary statements to the gardai on the day of the incident. She said the deceased had fallen in love with her, but that she was never his girlfriend.

"It was 24 hours a day. He came to my place, to my friends' places," she said.

She said he used to text her and put things on Facebook and 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 he had followed her for the two years she had known him and that she would frequently see his car outside her home.

She said that she went to a friend's house in the early hours of that Tuesday 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 recalled being under the water. "I screamed his name. I saw ladder and got out," she said.

"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."

She had earlier been taken to hospital suffering from hypothermia and told a paramedic: "He shouldn't have been there."

Her triage nurse, Claire Best, also testified."From the moment I went in to Marta, I felt that I would end up here today," she said.

She asked Marta if she had been hurt. "She said she didn't give him a chance," said Ms Best. "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.

A number of months passed before Ms Herda was arrested and interviewed.

It was then she was asked if she had driven deliberately into the water.

"No. I would never want to hurt anyone or even to destroy my car," she replied.

She said she could have been killed herself, that she had a family and wanted to have children.

"I didn't want to do that, but I don't want all this happened," she said. "It was horrible and scary in this car. I don't want to see him anymore."

It was put to her that she had said Mr Orsos had come to her house, but that CCTV footage showed her driving through Arklow alone.

Her call records were also put to her; they showed that she phoned the deceased three times that morning, the final call being at 5.35am.

She was also told that the postman noticed that the deceased man's front door was open later that morning.

She agreed that she had probably called him to come out to her.

The trial heard technical evidence that the hand brake had been used on the quay and that the driver's window was the only one open.

She was asked why it was open when it was snowing. She said that she did not know.

"Would you agree that Csaba Orsos is dead because of your criminally dangerous act?" she was asked.

"He is dead because of his love for me," she replied.

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

Sunday Independent

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