Pier killer sobs af ter rejection of murder appeal bid
A WOMAN who drove a man who loved her into a deep harbour, where he drowned, has lost on all 17 grounds of her appeal against her conviction for murder.
Polish national Marta Herda, 30, sobbed and embraced family members and friends after the judgment at the threejudge Court of Appeal.
Afterwards, Herda’s sister Monika said: ‘I think this was a ridiculous decision. We are sorry about [victim] Csaba but what happened after and now with that verdict is not fair for Marta. That’s why it’s not the end. We will wait for the Supreme Court.’
Herda, of Páirc Na Sáile, Emoclew Road, Arklow, Co. Wicklow, knew her passenger, 31-year-old Hungarian man 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.
In July last year, a jury at the Central Criminal Court found her guilty and she was given the mandatory life sentence.
The court heard that the Polish waitress escaped through the driver’s window but her colleague’s body was found on a beach later that day. A post-mortem found that Orsos died from drowning and not injuries related ‘Not fair’: Herda’s sister Monika 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 appealed on 17 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 in regard to circumstantial evidence.
Although she did not give evidence herself, her counsel, Giollaíosa Ó Lideadha SC, said Herda asserted at all times that this was a terrible accident, that she did not deliberately drive into the water and that her command of English was a matter of great importance.
She claimed to have little or no recollection of events leading up to driving into the water, including how the deceased came to be in her car and that aspects of statements made after the incident, and another months later, did not convey information which the prosecution said they did.
Mr Justice Alan 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 said it was ‘fanciful’ to suggest that driving a car off a harbour pier into deep water at speed was deliberate, but at the same time was not intended to kill or cause serious injury to Mr Orsos.
Mr Justice Mahon said it was arguable, if not likely, that words attributed by a 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.
She also said to a garda, after formal caution: ‘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.’
Mr Justice Mahon said there was no requirement for a corroboration warning ‘as the confession evidence (if indeed it amount to such) was not without corroboration’. Firstly, he said both statements could corroborate each other and additional evidence of corroboration could be found in the speed of the vehicle as it drove through the harbour area and, possibly, the use of the handbrake.
‘We will wait for the Supreme Court’
Marta Herda: ‘Knew her passenger could not swim’