Friday 19 July 2019

Woman arrested over death of Cork toddler Santina (2) released without charge

Gardai at the scene on Friday and inset, baby Santina
Gardai at the scene on Friday and inset, baby Santina

Ralph Riegel and Gabija Gataveckaite

A WOMAN arrested for questioning over the death of Cork toddler Santina Cawley (2) has been released without charge.

Gardaí confirmed that a file will now be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) on the matter.

Detectives stressed that their investigation is continuing into the circumstances in which the toddler died last Friday.

The woman in her 30s - who is not related to Santina - was arrested yesterday by Cork Gardaí in connection with the death of the two year old.

The woman was arrested at an address in Cork city centre and taken for questioning to Gurranabraher Garda Station.

She was held under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984 which allowed her to be questioned for up to 24 hours.

Tragic: Santina Cauley (2), who was found beaten to death in a Cork city apartment
Tragic: Santina Cauley (2), who was found beaten to death in a Cork city apartment

The arrest of the young woman came as Gardaí continued their murder probe 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 that his daughter was badly injured.

The child's mother, Bridget, was not present and was resident at an address in a different part of Cork.

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

Tragically, she died just over three hours 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.

Gardaí have not released the full results of the post mortem examination for operational reasons.

However, 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.

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 flats complex on Thursday and Friday last including the little girl's father and his girlfriend who is not the child's mother.

CCTV security camera footage from local properties is also being studied by Gardaí.

A party had been taking place at one flat in the complex on Thursday evening.

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

Meanwhile, a special appeal to help with the funeral costs for tragic Cork toddler Santina Cawley (2) has raised almost €5,000 in its first two hours.

The appeal was launched by RedFM's Neil Prendeville Show today after a family friend contacted the show and appealed for help for Santina's heartbroken mother, Bridget O'Donoghue.

Bridget left a bouquet of flowers outside the Cork apartment complex where her child was found with critical injuries last Friday.

She left the bouquet of flowers as a poignant tribute to the toddler with a note expressing her heartbreak at the devastating loss of her child.

"I am heartbroken at what happened to you. From your loving mother and family," the note read.

The mother of three was not at the Elderwood Park flats complex last Friday when the child was discovered with critical injuries.

Neighbours said the devoted mother is totally devastated at the death of her beloved Santina.

The toddler died in her mother's arms at Cork University Hospital (CUH) on Friday after doctors were unable to stabilise her condition.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been confirmed for Santina.

The appeal fund supported by RedFM can be accessed here.

The bouquet was left at the Elderwood Park complex by Santina's mother and family as they await the release of the toddler's body from Cork University Hospital (CUH).

Her remains are not expected to be released back to her family until Wednesday.

Funeral arrangements and Santina's Mass of the Angels will be confirmed at that stage.

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.

A photo of Santina showed the toddler drinking from her bottle from the back seat of a car.

Dozens of other mourners also took to social media to pay their respects.

"My heart is broken, I can't believe what has happened," said one family friend.

"I am so sorry from my heart and soul. May she rest in peace, God bless her and her family."

Anyone with information is urged to contact Anglesea Street Garda Station on (021) 4522000 or the Garda Confidential Line on (1800) 666111.

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