The woman accused of the murder of Santina Cawley, 2, sobbed as she insisted she did not kill the child, while acknowledging that the Garda evidence from her blood-splattered flat was mainly aimed at her.
Aren Harrington, 38, repeatedly broke down during a taped Garda interview as she cried: “The evidence looks like it’s all on me, all on me.”
Video of a fifth and final interview Harrington had with Gardaí was played to a homicide jury, with the defendant partially distraught.
“That (Garda evidence) points to me,” she sobbed. “It all tells me I’ve gone insane — I don’t know.”
But Harrington has been steadfast throughout all five Garda interviews that she did not murder the toddler and would never harm anyone, much less a child.
Ms Harrington of Lakelands Crescent, Mahon, Cork, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Santina in a trial at the Central Criminal Court before Mr 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 Boreenmanna Road in Cork City at 5am on 5 July 2019. Mrs. Harrington was living in the flat 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.
A post-mortem found Santina suffered 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 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.
On July 8, 2019, Harrington was arrested at an address in Blackrock and taken to Garranabraher Garda Station for questioning.
She gave Gardaí a total of five interviews between July 8 and 9 after her arrest.
The defendant cried repeatedly during her fifth and final interview when gardaí 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 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 harm a baby. I wouldn’t harm a child – I’ve been with children my entire life. I’ve 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 on 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 child.
Det Garda David Noonan said Gardaí are following the evidence and want to know the truth about what happened to Santina.
“Santina Cawley was murdered – murdered at 26 Elderwood Park – your address. We’re talking about your address. A two year old child. defenseless, yes?
“Our investigation follows the evidence and no stone is left unturned. The evidence paints a picture,” he told the accused.
“Blood…blood…blood – in my kitchen, my home,” the defendant said after looking at the stills.
“(Was it) mine? I cut my foot… these pics make me kinda sick.”
The defendant was also shown cropped photos of the injuries Santina suffered.
Gardaí 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 Gardaí 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 audibly groaned as she viewed photos during the interview
“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.”
Gardaí 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 entered Cork
“Michael Cawley wasn’t there. We’ve got him on CCTV in Cork City. You were the only person in the apartment. They last had Santina and she
lived then,” he said.
He challenged the defendant on how Santina sustained her devastating injuries.
The defendant sobbed repeatedly as she insisted on not harming Santina.
“Oh Jesus – I didn’t hurt (the) child. I swear… honestly to God. Not at all (remembering it), not at all.”
Inspector Callaghan, when cross-examined for the defense by Brendan Grehan SC, confirmed that Ms Harrington “has no history of violence from the Garda records”.
He also conceded, while Gardaí formally presented it to her, that the evidence pointed to her, she had never deviated 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 Ms Harrington had made to Gardaí on 5 July.
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 Harrington voluntarily gave gardaí their clothing 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/woman-accused-of-murdering-santina-cawley-2-told-gardai-the-evidence-looks-like-it-is-all-on-me-but-insisted-she-did-not-kill-child-court-hears-41634752.html The woman accused of killing Santina Cawley, 2, told Gardaí “the evidence looks like it’s all with me,” but insisted she did not kill the child, the court said