JUDGE­MENT IS RE­SERVED IN HERDA APPEAL Ci­ti­zen’s In­for­ma­tion of­fices dealt with 23,000 queries

Wicklow People - - NEWS -

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, knew her pas­sen­ger could not swim when she drove her Volk­swa­gen Pas­sat through the crash bar­ri­ers at South Quay, Ark­low, shortly be­fore 6 a.m. 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 a two-day of hear­ing in the Court of Appeal, Mr Jus­tice Ge­orge Birm­ing­ham, who sat with Mr Jus­tice Alan Ma­hon and Ms Jus­tice Máire Whe­lan, said on Wed­nes­day last (July 19) that 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. OVER 23,000 queries were han­dled by County Wick­low Ci­ti­zen’s In­for­ma­tion Ser­vice last year, fig­ures from a new re­port re­veal.

Ac­cord­ing to ‘Mak­ing An Im­pact – The Public Value of Ci­ti­zens In­for­ma­tion Ser­vices’, one in six adults liv­ing in Ire­land con­tacted one of the coun­try’s 42 Ci­ti­zens In­for­ma­tion Ser­vices (CIS) last year. A to­tal of 607,913 peo­ple con­tacted CIS with a to­tal of 1.01 mil­lion queries over­all in 2016, an in­crease of two per cent on the pre­vi­ous year.

The vast ma­jor­ity of call­ers to the ser­vices were sup­ported by CIS staff face to face. Four out of five peo­ple dropped into their lo­cal CIS in per­son, while nearly 20 per cent made con­tact by tele­phone and just one per cent got in touch by email.

‘This is in con­trast to the move by many other ser­vices to use in­ter­net and au­to­mated re­sponses to an­swer peo­ple’s queries,’ said De­vel­op­ment Man­ager at County Wick­low CIS Martina Cronin.

Over 44 per cent of all of queries were in re­la­tion to so­cial wel­fare. Many of these re­lated to pay­ments for fam­i­lies and chil­dren, in­clud­ing fam­ily in­come sup­ple­ment, one-par­ent fam­ily al­lowance, child ben­e­fit or back to school cloth­ing or footwear for ex­am­ple. Al­most 10 per cent of queries were hous­ing re­lated queries and CIS con­tin­ues to deal with in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies in cri­sis due to a lack of ac­com­mo­da­tion in the county.

Sis­ter Stanis­laus Kennedy, guest speaker at the launch of the re­port, said that the huge num­bers of en­quiries high­lighted how in­ac­ces­si­ble and im­pen­e­tra­ble many public ser­vices are.

Ac­cord­ing to Martina Cronin, Wick­low CIS is find­ing it­self deal­ing with more com­plex queries.

’We are con­sis­tently deal­ing with more com­plex is­sues and more dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions for fam­i­lies and in­di­vid­u­als,’ she said.

‘One of the great ad­van­tages of the CIS is that we are lo­cated where peo­ple are liv­ing and we have of­fices based in Bray, Ark­low, Wick­low town, Glen­dalough, Blessington and Balt­in­glass (which are un­der the aus­pices of Car­low CIS).

‘One of the valu­able pieces of ev­i­dence that this re­port shows us that peo­ple who visit CIS pre­fer to talk to other peo­ple about their dif­fi­cul­ties and con­cerns. Our com­mu­nity con­nec­tion as a drop-in ser­vice is our great­est strength,’ she said.

Other re­cur­ring trends saw mi­grants con­tin­ued re­liance on face to face in­for­ma­tion ser­vices; 20 per cent of call­ers came from other coun­tries.

LEFT: Marta Herda at a pre­vi­ous court sit­ting.

Martina Cronin.

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