Santina Cawley: Neighbor accused of murder ran to home after hearing screams, court said

A NEIGHBOR ran to the home of murder suspect Karen Harrington, 37, after hearing screams, arguments and the sound of glass breaking in the early hours of the morning.

Aoife Niamh McGaley told the Central Criminal Court murder trial that she was deeply concerned for Ms Harrington after hearing about the disturbance in the early hours of July 5, 2019 at the Cork apartment complex where they were living.

Karen Harrington of Lakelands Crescent, Mahon, Cork, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Santina Cawley (2) at a trial at Cork Central Criminal Court before Lord Judge Michael MacGrath and a jury of seven men and five women.

Santina was found with non-life-threatening injuries at 5am on 5 July 2019 at 26 Elderwood Park, on Boreenamanna Road, Cork City.

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.

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).

Ms McGaley, a neighbor of Karen Harrington, said she heard arguments, breaking glass and screams from the neighbor’s flat in the early hours of July 5

“I heard noises… I heard screams. Was it 3am? I heard a fight and it sounded like a fight between a man and a woman. It was muted.”

“Shortly after that, I heard Karen yell.[She yelled]’I’m going to tell them all.’ Then I heard glass shatter, but it didn’t make any sense at all.”

The witness said she believed one of the voices involved in the argument was quite low.

Later she heard a woman scream.

“She (Karen) screamed — I’ll tell, I’ll tell.”

“I was in my bedroom. I jumped up immediately. I grabbed my hoodie and put it on. I ran up and down my stairs to Karen’s apartment.”

Ms Galey said she had knocked on the door repeatedly to inquire about Karen Harrington’s wellbeing.

The witness said she was convinced she heard the sounds of a man and woman arguing from the apartment.

“I could hear someone sobbing. At that point I was very, very concerned.”

A short time later, Karen Harrington opened her door.

“She (Karen) looked very distressed. She looked very upset. She was calmer within herself.”

Ms McGaley said she spotted a Betty Boop statue adoring Karen Harrington lying smashed in the flat with pieces strewn on the floor.

“She (Karen) kept apologizing (for the noise). She said she didn’t want to cause (a problem).”

“Karen got up and turned around – I noticed a mark on the side of her face. It looked like a piece (of her hair) had been ripped off.”

Ms McGaley said Karen Harrington apologized to her for the noise and indicated she was going to bed now.

But she said she doesn’t think the sound of breaking glass she heard earlier had anything to do with a drinking glass falling into the kitchen.

“I got the impression that she (Karen) was scared of something,” she said.

“I have a bad feeling about her.”

Ms McGaley said she saw no one in the flat – and returned to her own home when she was assured by Karen Harrington that she was going to bed.

“(But) I wasn’t happy with the situation at all. I went back to my own apartment. But I definitely heard an argument with someone with a deep voice.”

She was so concerned that she decided to call Karen Harrington’s sister about the events that had transpired.

That call was made at 3.27am – and at 3.42am Karen Harrington called her looking for a fire for a cigarette.

Around 5 a.m., Ms McGaley said she heard more screams.

“She was outside the apartment yelling at Dylan and Colm. She yelled, ‘Dylan, come on, come on – call the guards. Colm, Colm.”

“She was yelling at a guy named Dylan and a guy named Colm – she wanted them to call the Gardai.”

A short time later, Ms McGaley said she heard a man howling.

The trial was told last week that Santina had suffered devastating injuries, including a fractured skull, traumatic brain injury and a serious spinal injury.

Sean Gillane SC, for the state, said little Santina’s injuries could not have been inflicted in normal rough and tumble child play.

An autopsy was performed at CUH, which found Santina had sustained multiple trauma and “devastating injuries with no prospect of recovery.”

When gardai searched Harrington’s home, they found bloodstains and tufts of hair from the child, torn from a couch.

A stud from Santina’s left earlobe lay on the floor.

“There was hardly any part of her body that wasn’t showing some form of trauma,” Mr Gillane said.

The process, which is expected to take up to five weeks, will continue. Santina Cawley: Neighbor accused of murder ran to home after hearing screams, court said

Fry Electronics Team

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