Court reserves judgement on Wicklow woman’s appeal against ’pier’ murder conviction

Marta Herda

A 30-year-old woman who drove a man who loved her into a deep harbour, where he drowned, must wait to hear the outcome of an appeal against her conviction for murder.

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

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

The Central Criminal Court heard that the Polish waitress escaped through the driver’s window at the harbour but her colleague’s body was found on a nearby beach later that day. A post-mortem exam found that 31-year-old Csaba Orsos died from drowning and not from injuries related to the crash.

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

Herda has moved to appeal her conviction on a number of grounds broadly including the issue of recklessness; Whether or not the driving into the river was accidental or deliberate; If it was deliberate, whether “assault manslaughter” was still open to the jury; “Alleged confessions” and the judge’s charge to the jury with regard to circumstantial evidence.

After two days of hearing in the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice George Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Alan Mahon and Ms Justice Máire Whelan, said the three-judge court would reserve its judgment. It is the former attorney general’s first criminal appeal hearing since her appointment to the court last month.

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