A woman charged with Tot’s murder said the scene suggested ‘I went crazy’ and admitted evidence directed at her, court heard


A WOMAN charged with the murder of a two-year-old girl has admitted to gardai that all the evidence seemed to point to her committing the crime.

Karen Harrington, 38, of Lakelands Crescent in Mahon in Cork, is charged with the murder of Santina Cawley on July 5, 2019 at Boreenmanna Apartments in Cork.


Tragic Santina Cawley
Karen Harrington, 35, pleaded not guilty to murder


Karen Harrington, 35, pleaded not guilty to murderCredit: Daragh McSweeney
Santina was found seriously injured at Elderwood Park, Boreenmanna Road


Santina was found seriously injured at Elderwood Park, Boreenmanna RoadCredit: Daragh McSweeney/Cork Courts

The court today heard that in interviews Karen told Gardai she ‘couldn’t explain herself’ but the scene suggested she had ‘gone crazy’.

She said, “It all tells me I’ve gone crazy.”

The trial at the Central Criminal Court sitting in Cork showed footage in which Ms Harrington admitted all the evidence pointed to her as the culprit.

She added: “That sounds like me. I have never killed anyone in my life. This points to me. I would never hurt anyone – let alone a child.

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“All the evidence is on me. I would never hurt a child. I’ve been around children all my life.”

Karen told Gardai investigating that she felt sick looking at the footage.

Sobbing repeatedly, she stressed that although she could not provide an explanation for what had happened, she had not committed murder.

She said: “I didn’t kill Santina Cawley, I didn’t – I wouldn’t hurt a child, let alone kill a child.”

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Ms Harrington, who was in a relationship with Michael Cawley, the father of the deceased, at the time of the alleged offence, said she accepted it appeared all the evidence pointed to her.

She said all the evidence was “coming to me”.

Garda detective David Noonan told him that “nothing was left to chance” in the Garda investigation and that all the evidence was painting a picture.

Dr Garda Noonan explained to Karen that Santina suffered “horrible injuries”.

He asked her how hair could “come off” from a child’s head.

Ms Harrington said ‘Oh Jesus Christ’ but insisted she didn’t know how it happened.

Ms Harrington admitted to Gardai in her fifth interview that the photographs taken in her flat that night “looked very bad”.

However, she continued to insist that she had not murdered Santina Cawley.

Gardai told him that the child’s blood had been found on one of his pants. Karen said it all looked “crazy”.

She said: “It looks terrible. It looks very bad. (Blood on the pants) It looks okay. I don’t know. It looks all crazy.

“I didn’t hurt Santina and I wouldn’t hurt any babies or really anyone. I wouldn’t hurt anyone 100 percent.”

Ms Harrington said she was ’empty’ about the evening. Dt Sgt David Noonan asked if she had no recollection, how could she be so sure she hadn’t killed the child.

Ms Harrington again insisted she would never harm a child, saying: ‘I would never (harm) a child. I’ve been babysitting all my life. Honest to God, I told you from start to finish what I remember. I total you everything. I have a stomach ache.”


Deputy State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster previously told Central Criminal Court of a major fracture and numerous injuries to the two-year-old’s skull.

She said she was unable to count the number of impacts to the child’s head, saying: “In my opinion, these injuries were not accidental.”

The toddler had been left in Harrington’s care while the child’s father, Michael Cawley, was gone for a while.

Santina was found unconscious and naked on a blanket by her father when he returned at 5am.

Evidence of around 53 injuries to the little girl was heard by the court, sitting in Cork, at Monday’s hearing.

Dr Bolster said: ‘The child suffered a severe traumatic brain injury which is believed to have resulted in a deep coma.

“The skull fracture was very complex and extended over a large part of his head.”


Santina had suffered other fractures including one in the femur, one in the humerus and two ribs were broken.

Dr Bolster said: ‘There was no way this child was walking around with these broken bones.

“Once the head injury was inflicted, she would have been in a coma and then could not have cried.

“She would have been in a deep coma. Significant damage was done and the brain was swollen. It was a severe and traumatic brain injury. There was also bleeding in and around the spinal cord.

“Obviously the head was hit and that will cause movement in the brain and spinal cord. The head was swung or something hit the head, this will cause the brain to move and the spinal cord to stretch.

Medical examinations also revealed bruises on the forehead, earlobes, cheeks, mouth, a lip and a laceration of the skin between the nose and upper lip.

There were bruises all over the scalp, parts of the arms, elbow, chest, abdomen, chest and pelvis.

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The skin around his back, one foot, his jaws and Adam’s apple was also bruised.

Dr Bolster said: “There was absolutely no evidence of any underlying bone disease or disease.”

Michael Cawley, Santina's father


Michael Cawley, Santina’s fatherCredit: Facebook
The trial took place at Cork Central Criminal Court


The trial took place at Cork Central Criminal CourtCredit: Alamy

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