Santina Cawley murder trial: Jurors told to 'cast a cold and sceptical eye over the evidence'

Mr Justice Michael MacGrath told the four women and seven men who have been hearing the case for the past three weeks that they must exclude any sympathy they have for the accused and her family or for the deceased and her family.
Santina Cawley murder trial: Jurors told to 'cast a cold and sceptical eye over the evidence'

Eleven jurors have commenced their deliberations in the case against Karen Harrington on the charge of murdering two-year-old Santina Cawley in July 2019. 

UPDATE: Mr Justice MacGrath directed the jurors to suspend their deliberations after one hour and 14 minutes and told them to return to the Central Criminal Court in Cork on Monday morning, May 16.

EARLIER: Eleven jurors have commenced their deliberations in the case against Karen Harrington on the charge of murdering two-year-old Santina Cawley in July 2019.

They have been told they must try the case coldly and dispassionately.

Mr Justice Michael MacGrath told the four women and seven men who have been hearing the case for the past three weeks that they must exclude any sympathy they have for the accused and her family or for the deceased and her family.

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.
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.

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.

Mr Justice Michael MacGrath said at the end of his speech, formally putting them in charge of the case shortly after noon today, “Your verdict must be unanimous, whether it is a verdict of guilty or not guilty.

“It is very important that you take your time. There is no rush. Take as much time as you require. It is extremely important you consider all of what you have heard in this courtroom. 

"It is also important that everyone’s voice is heard in the jury room – make your voice known, make your concerns known.” 

The eleven jurors – one juror was excused last week - then commenced deliberating at the Central Criminal Court in Cork.

The judge said they must remove any prejudice or sympathies it may have for either the deceased or the accused when deliberating and that they must try the case coldly and dispassionately and solely on the evidence.

Michael Cawley, father of Santina Cawley, at the Central Criminal Court hearing in Cork. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Michael Cawley, father of Santina Cawley, at the Central Criminal Court hearing in Cork. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

“You must cast any prejudice or sympathies from your mind. You must decide the case coldly and dispassionately and on a sober analysis of the evidence. 

"You must cast a cold and sceptical eye over the evidence, that is how you must test the evidence,” he said.

Mr Justice MacGrath said the presumption of innocence was a bedrock principle and that must inform their deliberations with the onus of proof always resting with the prosecution who must prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

The onus on the prosecution never shifts and there was no onus on Ms Harrington to give evidence or on her defence team to prove or disprove anything and the jury must always be cognisant of that.

He also stressed the importance of the jury being satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt of Ms Harrington’s guilt if they chose to convict her and while there is no legal definition of what a reasonable doubt is, he could offer some guidance on what it is not.

A reasonable doubt is not an artificial or a contrived or a manufactured or a frivolous doubt but rather a real doubt, one that can be established by reason, and it is the standard in all Irish criminal trials in contrast to civil matters which are decided on the balance of probabilities, he said.

Mr Justice MacGrath told the jurors that if they have any doubt in relation to any individual piece of evidence or on the totality of evidence presented in the case by the prosecution, they must, at all times, give the benefit of that doubt to the accused and they had a duty to acquit Ms Harrington.

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