Murder accused told gardai victim was dead because of his love for her

Marta Herda
Marta Herda

A woman accused of murdering her colleague by driving him into a harbour, where he drowned, told gardai he was dead because of his love for her.

Memos of the waitress’s garda interviews were read to the Central Criminal Court yesterday on the eighth day of her trial.

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 woman has pleaded not guilty to murdering the Hungarian at South Quay, Arklow.

They both worked at Brook Lodge Hotel in Aughrim and the trial heard that he was in love with her, but that she didn’t feel the same way.

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.

Detective Sergeant Fergus O’Brien testified yesterday that he arrested Ms Herda at her home on August 2nd, 2013. He and a colleague then interviewed her at Wicklow Garda Station.

He said they asked her if she had known there were ladders on the harbour wall, but she said she didn’t remember how she got out of the water.

The statement of a man working at the harbour was put to her. He had described the speed of a car he heard as ‘pedal-to-the-floor stuff’.

“Yes, I was stressed and nervous,” she said, when asked if the car was going fast.

“I didn’t want to drive there. It was an accident,” she said, explaining that they had been arguing in the car.

“I couldn’t understand what he was saying and then, boom,” she said, denying that she had driven into the water deliberately.

She was asked if she’d agree that she was driving recklessly.

“No, I don’t think so,” she replied. “I wouldn’t hurt anyone. I could have killed myself. I didn’t want to die. I have a family.”

She added later that she wanted to have children.

She said it would have been easier if the deceased was there to explain.

“I wish he was still here,” she said.

She said his attention was too much for her sometimes and she agreed that she was angry with him when she drove to the harbour that morning.

She was asked if he had shouted at her to stop. She said there was screaming in the car all the way from her house.

She was then shown CCTV footage of her car travelling through Arklow at 5.28am that day.

She was asked how many people were in the car.

“One,” she replied.

“Where’s Csaba?” she was asked.

She said she didn’t know.

“You told us he got into your car at your house,” said the gardai.

“I don’t know,” she replied.

Call records were put to her, showing that she had rung the deceased at 5.20am.

“I was ringing him to make him feel better,” she said.

She agreed that she had ‘probably’ rung him at 5.35am to come out to her.

She was asked what she had done to make him go to her.

“I didn’t have to do anything. He came to me,” she replied
She agreed that she knew he couldn’t swim.

She said she didn’t know why the driver’s window was open and she was wearing light clothes when it was snowing. She agreed she had heard that it was impossible to open a door underwater.

“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 heard earlier that the handbrake had been applied before the car entered the water and that the only open window was the driver’s.

Forensic Collision Investigator Garda Cliff Harding testified that he examined a dark skid mark on the quay the day after the incident. He provided a number of photographs of the mark to the jury.

He described it as a ‘locked tyre mark that would be caused by emergency braking’.

“If one had applied the pedal brake, you would not get a mark like this,” he continued, explaining that the car’s ABS braking would stop the wheels from locking, preventing such a mark.

“My conclusion is that the hand brake was applied,” he said.

Under cross examination by the defence, he said he couldn’t say whether the pedal brake was also applied. He also agreed that the mark seemed to have gone ‘as far as it can go’.

Under re-examination by the State, he said he had not found any marks consistent with the application of a pedal brake.

The jury also heard from the expert, who examined the car after it had been retrieved from the water.

Retired Garda Adrian Tucker had worked with the force as a vehicle examiner.

“The window in the front driver’s side was in an open, wound-down position,” he said, pointing to photographs.

He said that both windows on the passenger side were closed and in tact and that the rear window on the driver’s side had been shattered. The jury had already heard that this had happened as the car was being retrieved from the water.

He said that both windscreens were shattered.

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