Cork toddler's bloodstained and torn pink T-shirt shown as exhibit in murder trial 

Dr Waldron said DNA profiles on five of the blood stains on the T-shirt matched the late Santina Cawley’s own DNA profile.
Cork toddler's bloodstained and torn pink T-shirt shown as exhibit in murder trial 

Father of Santina Cawley, Michael Cawley, pictured at the Central Criminal Court, Cork. The judge and jury heard that the father of Santina Cawley shouted into the face of his then partner – as the scene was being investigated by the first officers to arrive - “You killed my baby girl, you monster.” 

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Two-year-old Santina Cawley’s torn and bloodstained pink T-shirt with the shiny design of a kitten’s face was held up as an exhibit in the trial of her father’s then-partner on a charge of murdering her in 2019.

Earlier, the judge and jury heard that the father of Santina Cawley shouted into the face of his then partner – as the scene was being investigated by the first officers to arrive - “You killed my baby girl, you monster.” 

38-year-old Karen Harrington of Lakelands Crescent, Mahon, Cork, denies the murder of Santina Cawley at Elderwood Park, Boreenamanna Road, on July 5, 2019.

 Detectives carrying evidence related to the Santina Cawley murder trial at the Central Criminal Court, Cork.
Detectives carrying evidence related to the Santina Cawley murder trial at the Central Criminal Court, Cork.

Dr Sibéal Waldron of Forensic Science Ireland was handed the child’s pink T-shirt which was removed from an evidence bag by Detective Garda Myles Moran. Dr Waldron held it up in the witness box for Mr Justice Michael MacGrath and the seven men and four women of the jury to observe it. (One juror was excused on Tuesday).

Dr Waldron said DNA profiles on five of the blood stains on the T-shirt matched the late Santina Cawley’s own DNA profile.

“The T-shirt was damaged on the right and left shoulder areas. The tears and rips in both of these areas are caused by some force of pulling and are not attributable to normal wear and tear,” Dr Waldron testified.

The forensic scientist also found that two clumps of hair found in Karen Harrington’s apartment were matched by DNA profile to Santina Cawley.

Another forensic scientist, Dr Jennifer Ryan, analysed sample strands of hair from the hair clumps and found that they contained the root of the hair in each case – “characteristic of forceful removal. Both clumps of hair were pulled from the head.” 

Under cross-examination by defence barrister, Paula McCarthy, Dr Waldron confirmed that bloodstaining of a child’s pink leopard-print leggings matched the DNA of Santina Cawley in three examined bloodstains.

Adult leggings in a floral design – found in a bedroom of Karen Harrington’s apartment – had bloodstains, four matching Karen Harrington’s own DNA and one matching Santina Cawley’s DNA.

Detective Garda Eoghain O’Callaghan gave evidence earlier in the trial at the Central Criminal Court sitting in Cork.

Brendan Grehan, defence senior counsel, said in cross-examination of the witness, “You described her (Karen Harrington) as very distressed (after 6am that morning at the scene).” 

The detective replied, “Yes.” 

“It was obvious to you she was in a distressed state, giving you some details. She told you she had been with the child in the apartment and she asked you was she (Santina) OK?” Mr Grehan said.

The defence senior counsel added, “Michael Cawley intervened. He came over and shouted in her face… It was a fairly fraught situation. We heard from Sergeant Bryan Teahan – he directed you to separate the two people.

“Michael Cawley shouted in her face, ‘You killed my baby girl, you monster.’” Det. Garda O’Callaghan agreed that this was the account that he had written in his notebook.

When Michael Cawley shouted this in her face, Karen Harrington replied, ‘I did yeah - I did yeah’ sarcastically,” the detective said.

Defence Counsel Grehan SC clarified it with Det. Garda O’Callaghan that his client said ‘I did yeah’ in a sarcastic tone suggesting that the opposite was the case. The detective agreed.

Mr Grehan noted that throughout this encounter when the detective was talking to the accused she was grabbing on to the detective’s arm and it was obvious that she was distressed.

Crime Scene Manager Detective Garda Stephen Dennehy testified that Santina had sustained 49 separate external injuries and a further four internal injuries when she was found by her father, Michael Cawley at the apartment of his then partner, Karen Harrington.

The detective said clumps of hair were found inside the door of the apartment as well as on a three-seater sofa in the living area of the duplex. He said that a blood-stained duvet was recovered as was the bottom half of child’s clothing with a nappy inside. A gold stud earring was in Santina’s right ear but the left stud was found on the sitting room floor, Detective Garda Dennehy said.

He told how he found a child’s pink top with a sequined front for a child aged 12 months to 18 months on a cushion on the arm of one of the couches. The top had two tear marks on the neck, one on the right side and one of the left side, he said.

Det Garda Dennehy also told how he found the uncovered duvet in the centre of the floor of the living room and there was a lot of blood on the underside of the duvet while gardaí also found a child’s shoe under the duvet.

He also found a small amount of cannabis on top of a coffee table and he found a clump of hair on top of a cushion on the arm of a three seater couch while he also found a child’s pink leopard print leggings with a nappy and a white sock inside in the living room.

Det. Garda Dennehy said that he found a number of bloodied footprints in the kitchen area, also on the upper floor, including a bloody drag mark in front of the cooker and dishwasher and he also found a bloodstained yellow child’s leggings in the kitchen area.

He said that he also found a blood-stained pair of adult leggings with a floral pattern which were turned inside-out by a radiator in one of the downstairs bedrooms and one of the legs was heavily blood stained.

Cross-examined by defence counsel. Brendan Grehan SC, Det Garda Dennehy agreed that from a forensic examination point of view, the kitchen was not difficult to interpret but the living area was “strange to examine and interpret – it was not a typical scene.” 

Ms McCarthy defence barrister suggested that the defendant’s foot was cut and that her bleeding from this wound was consistent with the blood spills found in the kitchen. Dr Waldon agreed.

The trial continues.

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