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Waitress accused of killing colleague by driving him into harbour

Marta Herda (Pic Wicklow People)
Marta Herda (Pic Wicklow People)

A 29-year-old woman has gone on trial, charged with murdering her colleague in Wicklow by driving him into a deep harbour, where he drowned.

The prosecutor told the jury that Marta Herda could swim and knew that the deceased could not, when she drove her car through the crash barriers at South Quay, Arklow.

The Polish waitress, with an address at Pairc Na Saile, Emoclew Road, Arklow, has pleaded not guilty to murdering 31-year-old Csaba Orsas on March 26, 2013.

Brendan Grehan SC, prosecuting, opened the case to the Central Criminal Court this morning.

He said the State’s case was that the deceased, a Hungarian, was the front seat passenger in a car deliberately driven over the harbour and into the sea shortly before 6am that Tuesday. It was the prosecution case that Marta Herda was the driver, he added.

He explained that the incident happened at the harbour wall in Arklow, where the Avoca river flowed into the sea.

“It’s tidal, fast flowing, very deep water that allows large boats to come in,” he said.

Mr Grehan said that a witness told gardai that he heard a car coming through the harbour at speed. The witness heard distressed screaming a short time later and ‘saw the accused with her wet clothes stuck to her’.

Mr Grehan said that the road leading to the water was ‘almost like a runway in terms of its dimensions’.

He explained that there was a barrier at the end of this to prevent cars driving into the sea. There was an electrical box in the centre and this was also protected by a barrier.

“The evidence will show the car drove through both barriers into the sea,” he said. “The prosecution says it had to be driven at great speed.”

The jury was told that Ms Herda was taken to hospital and her car recovered from the water, while Mr Orsas’ body was found on a beach two miles away at lunchtime. A post-mortem exam found he died due to drowning and not due to injuries from the crash.

“The objective evidence suggests that Marta Herda, in a deliberate act, drove through those barriers,” said Mr Grehan. “The driver’s window was down, Marta Herda could swim, the deceased could not and Marta Herda was aware of that.”

Mr Orsas had lived at Brookview Court in Arklow and worked at the Brook Lodge Hotel in Wicklow. Ms Herda had been working as a part-time waitress at the same hotel, he said.

Mr Grehan said that one matter in particular would stand out for the jury: how the deceased came to be a passenger in her car shortly before 6am. He said the jury would hear telephone phone evidence.

“It was quite clear Marta Herda was able to escape,” he said.

Mr Grehan said that the evidence would lead the jury to conclude that she was guilty of murdering Mr Orsas.

The trial is expected to last three weeks before Mr Justice McCarthy and a jury of eight men and four women.