MURDER Accused Karen Harrington, 38, produced affidavits in her own defense when she insisted at her trial that she did not kill or injure Cork toddler Santina Cawley, 2.
The defendant took the stand as charges were closed in the Cork murder trial that has been going on for three weeks.
“For not murdering Santina Cawley,” Karen Harrington insisted from the witness stand.
“I can’t answer that (who killed the kid). I’m not sure I can say,” she told defender Brendan Grehan SC.
Harrington of Lakelands Crescent, Mahon, Cork, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Santina in a trial at the Central Criminal Court before Lord Judge Michael MacGrath and a jury of seven men and four women.
Santina was found naked on a dirty blanket with serious injuries at 26 Elderwood Park on Boreenamanna Road in Cork City at 5am on 5 July 2019.
Karen Harrington lived in the apartment at the time.
The little girl was discovered seriously injured when her father, Michael Cawley, 37, was returning to his then-girlfriend’s flat after leaving the property at 3am two hours earlier to walk alone into Cork city center to to find his cousin from Limerick.
Mr Cawley, who was separated from his wife Bridget, the mother of Santina, had left his daughter in the custody of the defendant at her home for over two hours that night while he walked into Cork city centre.
Despite desperate efforts by doctors and paramedics to stabilize the little girl’s condition, she was pronounced dead shortly after being admitted to Cork University Hospital (CUH).
An autopsy was performed at CUH, which found Santina had sustained multiple trauma and “devastating injuries with no prospect of recovery,” including a fractured skull, traumatic brain injury and a serious spinal injury.
The deputy state pathologist Dr. Margaret Bolster, who has performed over 16,000 post-mortem examinations over her career, said she “absolutely” believes the injuries were not accidental.
Santina had fractures to her skull, humerus, femur, and ribs.
Almost every part of the child’s body showed bruises and abrasions.
The complex fracture of her skull had displaced a full 10 cm section of the cranial bone.
dr Bolster said it was more likely Santina was violently hit against something than she was hit with something.
In a sworn testimony that lasted almost 15 minutes today, Karen Harrington insisted she did not know how the child sustained such fatal injuries.
“I’m not escaping anything,” she said under cross-examination with Sean Gillane SC, for the state.
“I don’t know exactly what happened during that time.”
“It’s not all blank… there are parts of the night that I remember. As for Santina and her injuries, I can’t give a detailed description.”
Mr Gillane explained to the defendant that she inflicted the horrific injuries on the child.
He challenged her to help solve the mystery of what happened to the little girl.
“I did not injure Santina Cawley,” she replied.
Mr Gillane explained to her that she was the only person in the home with Santina between just after 3am and minutes after 5am when the child was discovered in critical condition.
“I accept that I didn’t do this to Santina,” she said.
Karen Harrington was asked who caused the injuries to Santina?
“It’s not for me… I’m in no position to answer. I dont know.”
“I accept that Santina didn’t do it. I’m not trying to say anything.”
She stressed that she did not mock or mock the child that night – and questioned the statement of a neighbor who said they heard a crying child being mocked in the flat.
When asked if he was the only person in the apartment with Santina during the entire period, the witness denied the testimony.
“I wouldn’t agree – I’ve been thinking about that for the last three years.”
“(But) I accept that me and Santina were alone in my apartment for a while.”
Karen Harrington insisted she didn’t notice any injuries to Santina until she was woken from her sleep by Michael Cawley, who returned to her flat after 5am after walking back from Cork City.
“I didn’t do it myself (report injuries before waking me up at 5am). I can call you back I don’t envision bruises or blood or anything like that.”
“I don’t know anything about her.”
Sean Gillane SC, for the state, also read the jury statements taken by Gardai from two teenagers at the sprawling Elderwood estate on the eleventh day of the trial.
A teenager said he heard the sound of a loud argument between a woman (Karen Harrington) and Michael Cawley, Santina Cawley’s father.
The teenager said Karen Harrington cried loudly because of the things Mr. Cawley said to her in the early hours of July 5, 2019
The witness told Gardai that Mr Cawley called Karen Harrington “a slut”, “ac ***” and “a prostitute” and told her to “go back to your Pakis”.
Karen Harrington cried loudly and went back to her apartment in the complex.
“She cried because of the things Michael Cawley called her.”
The witness said Karen Harrington was adamant that Mr. Cawley should take care of Santina.
“(She said) she’s your child – she has nothing to do with me.”
Another teenager was awakened at around 1:30 a.m. by screams and shouts in the complex.
The witness said she saw a woman “yelling at a woman running down the street.”
The teenager said she recognized the woman but did not know the other woman.
The trial had previously heard that on July 8, 2019, Karen Harrington was arrested at an address in Blackrock and taken to Gurranabraher Garda Station for questioning.
She gave Gardai five interviews between July 8 and 9 after her arrest.
The defendant cried repeatedly during her fifth and final interview when gardai showed her photos of the blood-splattered Elderwood apartment and said all the evidence painted a picture of what had happened.
“I know… (but) I have no explanation. I can’t think of anything. A murdered child… Jesus Christ.”
“I can see where this is all going, but I don’t know.”
“Oh Jesus Christ – it’s like I did it. But I would not harm a child. I’ve never killed anyone,” she said.
“I would never, ever harm a baby. I wouldn’t harm a child – I’ve been with children my entire life. I have never hurt a child in my life.”
“I didn’t murder Santina. I haven’t murdered anyone. I have no memory – I wouldn’t hurt her.”
“Oh god, I really don’t know. Oh damn hell. Jesus Christ. I have nothing, no explanation. Oh god I can’t explain it. I can’t think of anything at all. Jesus Christ.”
The defendant sobbed as she insisted to Gardai that she was not harming the child.
“I wouldn’t hurt a child. That’s 100% true (she insisted she calmed Santina down and put her to bed after Michael Cawley left the apartment). I fell asleep myself – it’s true.”
Inspector David Callaghan said that in her last Garda interview, when presented with various Garda evidence, Harrington was asked what happened to the defenseless child.
Det Garda David Noonan said Gardai are following the evidence and want to know the truth about what happened to Santina.
“A two-year-old child… a defenseless child… (was) murdered at your address,” he said.
“Our investigation follows the evidence and no stone is left unturned. The evidence paints a picture,” he told the accused.
Det Garda Noonan pointed out various scene photos during the interview.
“Blood…blood…blood – in my kitchen, my home,” said the defendant.
“(Was it) mine? I cut my foot. These pictures make me kind of sick.”
Gardai said they just wanted to know the truth about what happened to Santina that night.
“I’m sick – I can’t explain it. I’m going insane (audio recording of a woman screaming in the early hours of July 5th). I have no recollection of that. Holy Jesus Christ.”
She said the evidence Gardai showed her suggested she had gone insane.
“All of this tells me I’ve gone insane. I dont know. O Jesus Christ.”
The defendant insisted she had never mocked and hurt a defenseless child – and groaned audibly during the interview as she saw still photos and images of the injuries Santina suffered.
“I didn’t mock the kid… I didn’t mock anyone. I put her on the blanket once or twice (to fall asleep). I had no reason to mock a child.”
“No way… I didn’t murder Santina.”
“I don’t know – honest to God, I don’t know how to harm a child. I can’t explain anything. It’s not that I won’t remember – I can’t. I really don’t know.”
She insisted that she could not remember some parts of the early hours of July 5th.
“I can’t explain that night — honestly, I would if I could.”
Gardai asked the defendant about blood found on a pair of floral leggings that were in a bedroom of an apartment.
“I don’t know – I have no recollection of it at all. was it my blood Jesus Christ like – I’m going to get sick.
The defendant also said she felt ill when asked if there were clumps of Santina’s hair on the apartment’s floor and couch.
“Jesus Christ – I’m getting sick.”
Det Garda Noonan said the accused was the only person in the flat with Santina after 3am when Michael Cawley arrived in Cork City.
“Michael Cawley wasn’t there. We’ve got him on CCTV in Cork City. You were the only person in the apartment. They had Santina last and she was alive then,” he said.
He challenged the defendant on how Santina sustained her devastating injuries.
The defendant sobbed repeatedly as she said she did not harm Santina.
“Oh Jesus – I didn’t hurt (the) child. I swear… honestly to God. Not at all (remembering it), not at all.”
Inspector Noonan, when cross-examined with Brendan Grehan SC for the defense, confirmed that Karen Harrington “has no history of violence”.
He also acknowledged that while Gardai formally told her that the evidence pointed to her, she did not back away from her basic position that she had harmed no one and could not remember parts of July 5th.
The jury was also read aloud to details of the statements Karen Harrington had made to Gardai on July 5.
Harrington volunteered to go to Bridewell Garda Station in the hours after Santina was found critically injured on 5 July.
At the station, she asked Det Sergeant Clodagh O’Sullivan how Santina was.
“I informed her that Santina passed away – she said she felt ill.”
The trial was told that Harrington Gardai voluntarily gave her clothes for testing and also agreed to provide blood, fingernail and swab samples.
The process, which is expected to take four weeks, continues.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/courts/i-did-not-murder-santina-cawley-accused-karen-harrington-takes-to-stand-in-cork-trial-41639363.html ‘I didn’t murder Santina Cawley’ – defendant Karen Harrington appears in Cork court