Blood stains on leggings matched DNA of Santina Cawley and murder accused, trial told

Earlier, a Garda crime scene manager told the jury of the extent of the injuries sustained by the toddler
Blood stains on leggings matched DNA of Santina Cawley and murder accused, trial told

Olivia Kelleher

Updated: 5pm

A blood stain matching the DNA profile of a two-year-old girl, who sustained 53 injuries and died in hospital, was found on a pair of adult floral leggings in the apartment in which she was discovered, a murder trial in Cork has heard.

Karen Harrington of Lakelands Crescent in Mahon, Cork is on trial at a Central Criminal Court sitting in the city charged with the murder of Santina Cawley at 26 Elderwood Park in Boreenmanna Road on July 5th, 2019.

The 37-year-old was in a relationship with Michael Cawley, the father of the deceased, at the time of the alleged offence.

Forensic scientist Dr Sibeal Waldron, of Forensic Science Ireland, told the court that DNA blood staining on the upper left knee of a pair of floral leggings recovered from a bedroom at 26 Elderwood Park in Cork matched the profile of Santina Cawley.

The remaining DNA profiles on other blood stains on the garment matched the DNA profile of the accused Karen Harrington.

Dr Waldron told the jury of seven men and four women, after the twelfth juror was excused earlier this week, that drip stains and pools of blood in the kitchen matched the DNA profile of Karen Harrington and indicated that she was bleeding in that area.

Dr Waldron said that clumps of hair found in the property matched the profile of Santina Cawley. A child’s pink t-shirt which was examined by forensic scientists had blood stains.

One stain on the inside of the right sleeve was found to have a mixed DNA profile, which the scientist said was more likely to contain the DNA profile of Santina and Karen Harrington than two other contributors. The other five stains matched the DNA profile of Santina Cawley.

Dr Waldron said that tear marks on the t-shirt were caused by force and pulling, as opposed to normal wear and tear.

Dr Jennifer Ryan, of Forensic Science Ireland, said analysis of the hair clumps recovered from the property indicated that they were “forcibly removed” from the head.

Multiple injuries

Earlier, the trial heard Santina Cawley sustained 49 external and four internal injuries.

Crime Scene Manager Det Garda Stephen Dennehy, of the Scenes of Crime Unit, told the jury the extent of the injuries sustained by the toddler: “She had 49 external injuries and four internal. A gold stud earring was present in her right ear similar in size to an earring in the middle of the sitting room floor. There was no earring in the left ear.”

Det Garda Dennehy gave evidence that clumps of hair were found inside the door of 26 Elderwood Park as well as on a three-seater sofa in the property.

A stained duvet with hair attached to it was also recovered, as well as a pair of child’s leopard print leggings with a nappy inside. The leggings had one sock in them.

Det Garda Dennehy said there was evidence of a disturbance in the kitchen. Blood stained leggings with a floral design belonging to an adult were discovered in a downstairs bedroom.

An examination of the scene where the child was found was carried out on July 5th, 2019.

Det Garda Dennehy noted contact blood staining inside the door of the apartment and a broken Betty Boop statue on the top of the stairway.

Markers were placed in the living room/kitchen area where the stud earring was found and also in the kitchen where there was a bloodied footmark in the centre of the room.

A pink top for a child aged 12-18 months, which had tear marks and was found on a two-seater sofa, was also among the evidence, while the court also heard smaller and finer blood stains were found in front of the dishwasher, as was a broken ashtray.

Garda Dennehy also found a small amount of cannabis on top of a coffee table in the property.

'Distressed state'

The trial heard evidence from Det Garda Eoghain O’Callaghan, who said he spoke to the accused outside the property on the morning the death occurred.

Det Garda O’Callaghan said Ms Harrington was in a “distressed state” and grabbing on to his arm. Ms Harrington asked him if "she (Santina) was okay".

He told the court the father of the child, Mr Cawley, approached Ms Harrington and a fraught situation developed. Det Garda O’Callaghan said Mr Cawley accused Ms Harrington of killing his child.

"He shouted: 'You killed my baby you monster'. She said: ‘I did yeah I did yeah’ sarcastically."

Under cross-examination, defence counsel Brendan Grehan SC, put it to Det Garda O’Callaghan that his client said "I did yeah" in a sarcastic tone, suggesting that the opposite was the case. Det Garda O’Callaghan agreed with the statement made by Mr Grehan.

The case continues.

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