Monday 19 August 2019

Gardaí arrest woman over death of two-year-old girl

Elderwood Apartment Complex, Cork
Elderwood Apartment Complex, Cork

Ralph Riegel

A woman in her 30s was being questioned under arrest by Cork gardaí yesterday in connection with the death of two-year-old Santina Cawley.

The woman, who is not related to the toddler, was arrested in Cork city centre yesterday morning and taken for questioning to Gurranabraher garda station.

She can be held under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984 for an initial period of 12 hours, which can be extended further.

The arrest came as gardaí continued their murder investigation into the death of the little girl.

Santina was discovered critically injured in the Elderwood Park flats complex just off Cork's Boreenmanna Road early last Friday morning.

A neighbour had contacted gardaí after a man called to his flat screaming for help and saying that his daughter was badly injured.

The child's mother was not present and was resident in a different part of Cork.

Santina was treated at the scene by paramedics at 5.30am before being rushed to Cork University Hospital.

She died a short time later.

Gardaí upgraded their investigation to a murder probe on Saturday after a post-mortem examination by assistant state pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster revealed Santina had met a violent death.

The toddler suffered multiple injuries to her head, neck and body, including multiple bone fractures.

Detectives believe the injuries are consistent with the toddler having been subjected to a sustained, vicious beating.

The arrest followed a massive Garda operation which involves up to 30 personnel including detectives and forensic experts.

Gardaí have also studied CCTV footage from nearby properties.

Two properties at the flats complex were sealed off by gardaí for forensic tests, as well as a vehicle found parked off the Boreenmanna Road.

Statements were taken from a number of people resident or present at the Elderwood Park complex last Thursday and Friday, including the little girl's father and his girlfriend, who is not the child's mother.

A party had been taking place at one flat on Thursday.

Gardaí have again appealed for anyone who was at the complex between 6pm on Thursday and 6am on Friday who has not yet spoken to gardaí to come forward.

Tributes have flooded in to the little girl from relatives, neighbours and friends.

Santina was hailed as "a little angel" who brightened the lives of so many.

The heartbroken uncle of the toddler took to social media to express his horror at the loss of his niece.

"RIP beautiful angel. Cruel world. Live life to the full and have no regrets," he wrote.

Irish Independent

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