Tuesday 20 March 2018

'Not credible accused drove into harbour intentionally'

Marta Herda outside Central Criminal Court. Photo: Collins
Marta Herda outside Central Criminal Court. Photo: Collins

Natasha Reid

The lawyer for a woman accused of murdering her colleague by driving him into a harbour, where he drowned, has said that if she had done so deliberately she would be "committing suicide".

Giollaiosa O Lideadha SC also said that the deceased was probably the one who had pulled the handbrake, but that this wasn't proof of guilt.

He was giving his closing speech to a jury in the Central Criminal Court trial yesterday.

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

The 29-year-old Polish waitress has pleaded not guilty to murdering the Hungarian at South Quay, Arklow.

Both had been in Ms Herda's car when it went into the water that morning. Ms Herda escaped but Mr Orsos couldn't swim and his body was found on a nearby beach later that day.

The trial heard that they had worked together, he was in love with her, but she didn't feel the same way. She told gardaí he had spent two years following her.

Mr O Lideadha said that the prosecution case was completely unsustainable and didn't make any sense. He noted that the State had asked why Ms Herda had kept a Valentine's card that Mr Orsos had sent if he was harassing her.

"She doesn't concede this but other people seem to see what's going on," he said. "She actually gets something positive out of this as well, someone saying: 'I love you. You're the most amazing person.' Is that a criminal offence now?"

He suggested that this was also the reason she rang him on the morning of the incident.

"The suggestion she rang him at 5am to kill him is totally bizarre," he said.

He explained that a murder conviction could be brought in only where there was intent to kill or seriously injure.

He said that if the jurors decided that she may not have intended it, but was reckless about it and thought about the risk to life, a verdict of manslaughter would be open to them. "I would submit there's no evidence to support that conclusion," he said. He said it appeared she wanted a friendly relationship with the deceased. "She knows she should have just blanked him and she knows she shouldn't have got into a car with him," he said.

Mr O Lideadha said that much had been made of the fact that the deceased couldn't swim and that Ms Herda was a strong swimmer. He said that she had saved her own life, which was in great peril and, that as soon as she could, she got the message across that there was a man in the water who couldn't swim.

He said it was ludicrous to suggest that his client had driven into the water deliberately. "Just think of the terror," he said. "It's incredible that she would do it intentionally."

He asked for a verdict of not guilty. Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy will begin charging the jury of eight men and four women this morning.

Irish Independent

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