Jury in Santina Cawley murder trial to resume deliberations on Monday

Santina Cawley (2) was discovered with critical injuries in an apartment in Cork city on July 5th, 2019
Jury in Santina Cawley murder trial to resume deliberations on Monday

Olivia Kelleher

A jury in the trial of a woman charged with the murder of a two-year-old girl in an apartment in Cork city in 2019 will resume their deliberations on Monday.

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

At the time of the alleged offence Ms Harrington was in a relationship with Santina's father, Michael Cawley.

Assistant State Pathologist, Dr Margaret Bolster, who carried out the postmortem on the child, previously told the trial that Santina died as a result of a traumatic brain injury and an upper spinal cord injury. Those injuries were coupled with polytrauma and lower limb injuries due to blunt force trauma.

The toddler sustained 53 injuries - 49 external and four internal - including fractures to her skull, two fractured ribs and fractures to her right arm and end of her left thigh, as well as extensive bruising to most parts of her body.

Dr Bolster said that the head injuries sustained by Santina were likely caused by being struck against a flat surface, adding that the toddler would have immediately stopped crying and fallen in to a coma after she sustained the fracture to her head.

Dr Bolster said the injuries were “forcefully inflicted” and were not consistent with an accidental fall.

Deliberations

Justice Michael McGrath commenced his charge to the jury of seven men and four women on Thursday and spent a further two hours summarising the evidence before they commenced their deliberations at 12.19pm. The twelfth juror was excused last week.

The jury was recalled at 1.30pm and sent home for the weekend, with their deliberations to resume on Monday.

Justice McGrath told the jury that the verdict must be unanimous, advising them to look at the evidence in a clinical and dispassionate manner and to give it due consideration.

He told the jury to set aside any sympathy they may have felt for Ms Harrington and her relatives, as well as for the deceased child and her family.

The judge added that there was no onus on Ms Harrington or her legal counsel to prove or disprove anything, a principle that the jury must be cognisant of during their deliberations, he said.

Santina was discovered 26 Elderwood Park on July 5th, 2019 after Mr Cawley returned to the apartment of his then-partner, Ms Harrington, where his daughter was critically injured. Santina was taken by ambulance to Cork University Hospital, where she died at 9.20am the same day.

Giving evidence on Wednesday, Ms Harrington (38) said she did not murder the toddler, but told defence counsel, Brendan Grehan SC, that she could not provide an answer as to who did inflict the injuries.

Under cross-examination by Sean Gillane, for the prosecution, Ms Harrington accepted that Mr Cawley did not inflict the injuries on his daughter.

In his closing statement, Mr Gillane said Ms Harrington had offered a “doughnut shaped” account of what had occurred, with a massive hole in the middle in relation to the hours in which Santina sustained her injuries.

However, in his closing arguments, Mr Grehan said that his client’s consistent position was that she did not cause Santina injuries, suggesting the jury should be left with a doubt, and therefore find Ms Harrington not guilty.

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