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Court hears car driven into the sea was “an instrument of murder”

Marta Herda
Marta Herda

A Central Criminal Court jury has been told that a car driven into the sea in 2013 was used ‘as an instrument of murder’.

The prosecutor was giving his closing speech yesterday (Wednesday) in the trial of a woman accused of murdering her colleague by driving him into a harbour, where he drowned.

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 at the harbour but Mr Orsos’ body was found on a nearby beach later that day.

They had worked together, he was in love with her, but she didn’t feel the same way. She told gardai he had spent two years following her, phoning her and sending her messages.

Brendan Grehan SC, prosecuting, said the the prosecution’s contention was simple and straightforward, that Ms herda had deliberately driven into the water.

“Whether she did it on the spur of the moment or thought about it beforehand is irrelevant,” he said, explaining that the intention for murder could be formed at the time.

“Someone overheating, losing the run of themselves can commit murder,” he explained.

He said that the prosecution case relied to a large extent on circumstantial evidence’.

“In this case It’s the prosecution’s contention that a car driven into the sea was used, in effect, as an instrument of murder,” he said.

He said that, as well as having the facts, the jury could draw inferences.

“If you see a door wide open in a house in the early hours of a morning…,You might well think that person, whenever they went out through the door, must not have intended to go away, but must have intended to come back in,” he said.

The court heard that Mr Orsos’ front door was found open after the incident.

He said the CCTV evidence showed Ms Herda’s car driving from the direction of her home towards the area where Mr Orsos lived around 5.30am that day. It was not in dispute that Ms Herda was the driver and was alone.

“(She’s) driving slowly, doesn’t appear to be driving dangerously,” he said.

He noted that an eyewitness said the woman was on the phone and animated.

He said the next footage was captured at 6am near the lifeboat station. It showed a woman from the direction of the harbour wall.

He said that critical phone evidence showed that Ms Herda rang the deceased three times that morning.

“She’s last on the phone to Csaba Orsos at 5.37,” he said.

He noted that a nightwatchmen heard a car driving at speed down the quays around 5.50am.

“Within a very short piece of time, 15 minutes at tops, maybe even less, she’s speaking to him by phone and he’s in the water, never to come back,” he said. “That timeframe is very important.”

He mentioned that a brake-mark, measuring 13 foot 6 inches, was found at the scene.

“It was brought about as the result of a hand brake applied in the car,” he noted. “We don’t know who applied the handbrake, but we do know that it, like in most cars, was between the passenger and driver seat.”

He noted that the driver’s window was the only one down.

He reminded the jury that Ms Herda was found soaking wet in very light clothing on a bitterly cold night when it was snowing.

He also pointed out that Ms Herda was a good swimmer and knew that Csaba Orsos could not swim.

He then moved on to Marta Herda’s own words.

“He shouldn’t have been there. I drove the car into the water,” she told a paramedic that morning.

“He didn’t think I’d do it,” she told a nurse.

A doctor had asked if she knew what would happen when she went into the water. He said she nodded and said that she knew he couldn’t swim.

Mr Grehan read out the two statements she made to gardai that day.

“Csaba came to my car. He wanted to talk,” she said. “He told me to drive to the beach. He was angry all the time shouting… I drove fast… I remember I turn and not go for beach. I remember I hit accelerator. I think i have enough of this. I have enough him. I can no longer take this. All I see is his angry face and screaming. I know that i drive to water. I can't take it anymore.”

Mr Grehan drew the jury’s attention to a card that the deceased had given Ms Herda.

“If somebody is effectively stalking you, is that the valentine card that you keep and you're in a position to hand over straight away to gardai?” he asked.

He said that one of the key questions in the case was how Mr Orsos came to be in the car with her.

“There is such a convenient loss of memory as to that critical matter,” he said. “She claimed to the gardai that she can't remember how he came to be in her car or even phoning him, but she can remember everything up to that.”

“Why was she calling to his house, ringing him at 5.20 in the morning, getting him into the car, driving off and he’s in the sea 10 minutes later?” he asked. “I suggest that’s why there’s no answer.”

“To suggest that Csaba Orsos somehow got into her car without her enticing him into the car is simply not a tenable suggestion,” he said.“

Within minutes, for no justifiable reason, she decides she’s had enough and she’s driving off the pier wall,” he said.

He pointed to photographs of ‘the demolition’ of two harbour barriers.

“The damage to the barriers suggest a car going at speed in one direction, into the cold and dark Avoca river at that hour of the night with a man she knew couldn’t swim,” he said.

He said the prosecution case was that she acted with deliberate intent when she drove off the pier and asked for a verdict of guilty of murder.

The jury will hear from the defence this morning.