Sunday 15 September 2019

'I did not murder no one' - pregnant woman (35) charged with murder of Cork toddler Santina Cawley (2)


Karen Harrington (35), who appeared at a special sitting of Cork District Court charged in connection with the death of Santina Cawley. Picture: Daragh McSweeney/Cork Courts
Karen Harrington (35), who appeared at a special sitting of Cork District Court charged in connection with the death of Santina Cawley. Picture: Daragh McSweeney/Cork Courts
Santina Cawley

Ralph Riegel

A PREGNANT woman was charged with the murder of Cork toddler Santina Cawley (2).

Karen Harrington (35) appeared before Judge Mary Dorgan at Cork District Court charged with the murder of the toddler who died after being found with critical injuries in a Boreenmanna Road flats complex on July 5 last.

Det Garda Cormac Crotty gave the court details of the arrest, caution and charge.

The detective said Harrington was arrested at 7.56am today.

He said that when the charge was formally put to the defendant, she replied: "I do not understand why I am being charged - I did not murder no one."

Harrington of Elderwood Park, Boreenamanna Road, Cork remained silent throughout the brief hearing.

Karen Harrington of Elderwood Park, Boreenamanna Road, Cork at Cork Court, Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Cork Courts
Karen Harrington of Elderwood Park, Boreenamanna Road, Cork at Cork Court, Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Cork Courts

The 35 year old, who appeared in court wearing a grey fleece top and tan slacks, is not related to Santina.

As the charge involved is murder, bail can only be dealt with by the High Court.

Judge Dorgan remanded Harrington is custody to appear again before Cork District Court on August 26 next.

Solicitor Paula McCarthy applied for free legal aid and submitted a statement of Harrington's means.

She also asked the court for her client to receive all required medical attention while she is in custody as she is four and a half months pregnant.

Judge Dorgan granted free legal aid in the name of Eddie Burke Solicitors and directed that the defendant receive all necessary medical attention while in custody.

Members of the toddler's family were in court including her mother, Bridget O'Donoghue.

Ms O'Donoghue wept throughout the brief hearing and was supported by a number of family members.

The Garda case file was prepared over the past two months before the DPP's instructions were sought.

Gardaí and paramedics raced to the Elderwood complex after the alarm was raised at 5am on July 5 when Santina was discovered with critical injuries.

Santina was treated at the scene by paramedics for her injuries before being rushed to Cork University Hospital (CUH).

Tragically, she was pronounced dead a short time later.

Gardaí launched a murder investigation on July 6 following a post mortem examination by Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster.

That examination revealed Santina had met a violent death and had sustained multiple injuries.

Detectives have refused to release the details of the post mortem examination for operational reasons.

The toddler's Mass of the Angels at the Cathedral of St Mary and St Anne was told she was "God's newest angel."

Mourners were led by her heartbroken parents, Bridget O'Donoghue and Michael Cawley, as well as Santina's four siblings.

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