herald

Saturday 21 October 2017

'This is not the end', says sister of killer waitress after appeal is rejected

Convicted murderer Marta Herda
Convicted murderer Marta Herda

The sister of a woman who drove a man who loved her into a harbour, where he drowned, has slammed the dismissal of an appeal against her murder conviction as "ridiculous".

Marta Herda (30), of Pairc Na Saile, Emoclew Road, Arklow, Co Wicklow, knew Csaba Orsos could not swim when she drove her Volkswagen Passat through the crash barriers at South Quay, Arklow, shortly before 6am on March 26, 2013.

Speaking outside court yesterday, Herda's sister Monika said: "I think this was a ridiculous decision. Marta had an unfair verdict in my opinion and in the opinion of our family and our friends.

"We are sorry about Csaba but what happened after and now with that verdict is not fair.

Sobbing

"That's why it's not the end for now. We will wait for the Supreme Court."

Herda had pleaded not guilty to the murder of 31-year-old Hungarian man Mr Orsos but a jury at the Central Criminal Court found her guilty and she was given a life sentence on July 28, 2016.

The court heard that the Polish waitress escaped through the driver's window but her colleague's body was found on a nearby beach later that day.

The trial was told that the handbrake had been applied before the car entered the water and that the only open window was the driver's. Herda appealed on 17 grounds including recklessness and "alleged confessions".

However, dismissing her appeal in the three-judge Court of Appeal yesterday, Mr Justice Alan Mahon said all grounds were rejected. Herda began sobbing and embraced relatives and friends after the judgment.

Mr Justice Mahon said Herda had told gardai she had a good understanding of English but "might need help with some words". Herda's counsel, Giollaiosa O Lideadha, said her client asserted that this was a terrible accident, that she did not deliberately drive into the water and that her command of the English language was a matter of great importance.

She claimed to have little or no recollection of events leading up to driving into the water. Mr Justice Mahon said it was difficult to see how the trial judge's instructions to the jury in relation to murder/manslaughter could have been clearer.

He added that it was "fanciful" to suggest that driving a car off a pier at speed was deliberate but at the same time was not intended to kill or cause serious injury to Mr Orsos.

The judge said the only category of manslaughter that could be relevant was that of gross negligence manslaughter and the trial judge "comprehensively and appropriately" charged the jury in relation to that.

He said it was difficult to identify a single aspect of the defence case that was not referred to by the trial judge in the course of his "lengthy charge".

Angry

Mr Justice Mahon said the decision to admit the evidence of two nurses was correct.

He said it was arguable, if not likely, that words attributed by one nurse to Herda to the effect that Mr Orsos did not believe she would drive the car into the water - "He didn't think I would do it" - constituted an admission or an inference that she had done so deliberately.

The same might equally be said of Herda's response when she was formally cautioned.

She said: "I remember I turn and not go for beach. I remember I hit accelerator and I think I have enough of this, I have enough of him, I can no longer take this. All I see is his angry face and screaming.

"I know that I drive to water. I could not take it any more."

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