Woman accused of drowning colleague

A 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, aged 29, could swim and knew the deceased could not when she drove her car through the crash barriers at South Quay, Arklow.

The Polish waitress, of Pairc Na Saile, Emoclew Rd, Arklow, pleaded not guilty to murdering Csaba Orsas, aged 31, on March 26, 2013.

Brendan Grehan, prosecuting, opened the case at the Central Criminal Court yesterday.

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 is the prosecution’s case that Ms Herda was the driver.

He said the incident happened at the harbour wall in Arklow, where the Avoca River flows into the sea.

Mr Grehan said the road leading to the water was “almost like a runway in terms of its dimensions”.

“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.”

Mr Grehan said: “The objective evidence suggests that Marta Herda, in a deliberate act, drove through those barriers. 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, the court heard.

Mr Grehan said 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 phone evidence.

Security guard Gavin Nolan testified that he was working at a factory at Arklow Harbour that morning, and began a patrol of the area at 5.40am.

“I heard a vehicle coming from the town,” he said. “You could tell it was at high speed. At one point, the car seemed to pause or go quiet momentarily. It picked up again.

“Three to four minutes passed. I heard a noise. It started faintly and gradually grew into a screaming noise from a female.”

He said he saw a woman running, and rang gardaí. “I called out but she didn’t respond,” he said, explaining she had run in the direction of town. He said she was screaming something repeatedly, and he believed she was Polish.

Garda Fiona Furlong testified she and a colleague responded to the call and found the woman a short distance away. “She was soaking wet, frothing from the mouth, and shaking,” said Gda Furlong.

“She repeated: ‘He’s in the water. You have to help,’ and pointed towards South Quay.”

They saw a car bumper hanging off a broken barrier, but could not see a car or another person.

Gda Furlong said when ambulance personnel arrived, she learned Ms Herda had been driving the car.

The trial continues.


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