Saturday 25 May 2019

'Marta's victim got the death he feared most - he could not swim'

Retiring detective speaks of battle to bring harbour killer to justice

Convicted: Marta Herda was guilty of murdering Csaba Orso in 2013. photo: collins courts
Convicted: Marta Herda was guilty of murdering Csaba Orso in 2013. photo: collins courts
Murdered: Csaba Orso couldn’t swim and was drowned
Tom Brady

Tom Brady

"He got the death he feared most. He had an aversion to water and couldn't swim."

Detective Sergeant Fergus O'Brien is recalling the harrowing death of Csaba Orsos, who drowned in the deep harbour off Arklow's South Quay.

Marta Herda, who drove the car through crash barriers into the water and knew her passenger could not swim, was convicted of his murder.

Now the senior detective who investigated the crime has spoken for the first time about it as a case that made his job worth doing.

Det Sgt O'Brien was involved in the successful prosecutions of 'The Black Widow' Catherine Nevin as well as Herda, convicted in March 2013.

He spoke yesterday about the Herda case, which he described as a sad story but an uplifting one.

He told his colleagues: "Marta Herda was convicted of the murder of Csaba Orsos. This story is about Csaba Orsos's mother, a person I've never met.

"Csaba got the death he feared most. He had an aversion to water and couldn't swim," he said.

"He died by drowning. Marta Herda drove her car that night straight through two metal barriers, plunging it into the icy waters of the Avoca River at 6am.

"She took a look at Csaba, alighted from the open window of her car, swam to a nearby ladder on a wall and ran along the quay, shouting 'rape, I have been raped'.

"So not only did she take Csaba's life by assassinating him in the manner that she did, she now was assassinating his memory for his mother."

Describing Csaba's mother's reaction at home in Hungary when she heard about her son's death, he said: "When she heard the police in Ireland were investigating her son's death as a murder, she said: 'Who would hate my son so much that they would want to murder him?'"

After a long, lengthy and difficult trial, Herda was convicted and Det Sgt O'Brien was told the victim's mother had said: "A stone has been lifted off my heart."

He quoted the Greek poet, Aeschylus who said: "Even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls, drop by drop, upon the heart and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God."

Det Sgt O'Brien added: "I was glad that not only did we investigate that case but we redeemed Csaba Orsos' good name for his mother's memory.

"I never met [her] but I'm glad we could lift some of the pain that dropped on her heart and I'm glad we could lift the stone off her heart.

"To me, that is the meaning of being a police officer and that's what makes the job worth doing."

Det Sgt O'Brien retires from An Garda Síochána next week after a career spent fighting crime.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors presented him with their top accolade, the AGSI excellence award.

General secretary John Jacob said he had a remarkable and hugely successful career.

Irish Independent

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