A highly emotional journey made by Santina Cawley’s dad to the hospital on the morning she died was described in detail in the trial of his then partner for the child’s murder.
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.
Sergeant Brian Maher gave evidence of arriving at the scene on Boreenmanna Road, Cork, on that morning.
“A number of my colleagues were talking to Michael Cawley. He was agitated, extremely distraught and emotional.
“Inspector (Noel) Madden tasked me to speak to Mr Cawley. He was down the road from the scene, outside the Maxol shop on Boreenmanna Road. I introduced myself as a detective garda (his rank at the time). He was wearing orange shorts, T-shirt and runners. He was extremely distraught.
“I was asking him questions. He had a smell of intoxicating liquor but he was not intoxicated. He was enquiring about Santina – did I know if his daughter was dead or alive at the time.
“I asked him to accompany me to Anglesea Street Garda station to give me an account. He was emotional. He refused my request to go.
“On numerous occasions he asked was she dead or alive. I asked him to come with me. He did not want to. He wanted to go to hospital. He wanted to walk to the hospital. I asked would it be OK for me to accompany him. We walked to CUH together.
“I continued to speak to him on the way to hospital. On numerous occasions he wanted to know was she alive or dead. I was trying to support him as best I could. He was extremely emotional.
“When we arrived in the hospital I identified ourselves as a member of An Garda Síochána and as Michael Cawley – father of Santina Cawley. During our time in the hospital he had been crying and extremely upset.”
Hospital staff told Sgt. Maher that the parents should be prepared for the worst. At 9.20 a.m. Santina died.
“I was present when Mr Cawley was informed of this. It was an emotional time for Mr Cawley and for everyone involved, including hospital staff,” Sgt. Maher said.
Earlier, Mr Cawley asked Sgt. Maher to inform his ex-wife Bridget O’Donoghue and his father that Santina was being brought to the hospital.
Later, Sgt. Maher and Detective Garda Bryan Murphy accompanied Michael Cawley to his apartment at Leeside apartments on Grattan Street as they required to take the clothes he was wearing for analysis. (Forensic analysis later found that Mr Cawley’s clothes had no bloodstains of any kind.)
Sgt. Maher recalled entering the apartment and Mr Cawley’s reaction: “On seeing his daughter’s toys in the apartment he broke down again.”