Santina’s parents speak of immense pain and suffering since their child was murdered

Santina Cawley’s parents have spoken of their immense pain and suffering since the murder of their daughter in July 2019.

The pair made victim impact statements via a family liaison officer after 38 year old Karen Harrington of Lakeland’s Crescent in Mahon in Cork was jailed for life for murdering the two year old on the 5th of July 2019 at an apartment in Elderwood Park on the Boreenmanna Road in Cork.

Michael Cawley said he will be haunted by the horror of finding Santina’s disfigured body under a blanket for the rest of his life and said he had no words to describe the situation. He described Santina as a “beautiful, happy, friendly, caring, fun loving” girl and said she was his pride and joy and he will always be proud of her.

He said she was always smiling and loved life, that everyone loved her and she brought joy to his heart. The court heard that he misses the sound of her voice, her laugh, her smile and her blue eyes and red hair.

He described his life since Santina’s death as ‘mental torture’ and said he would not wish the loss on anyone.

Santina’s mother Bridget O’Donoghue said her daughter was a “happy soul… soft and gentle yet hardy, determined and a little fighter.” She spoke of the intense anger she felt towards Karen Harrington and said she continuously asks herself how someone could be so cruel to a two-year-old.

She said she would never forget the knock on the door in the early hours of the 5th of July when a Garda told her she needed to come to the hospital as her child was fighting for her life.

The victim impact statement went on to say that the day Santina passed she took a part of Bridget O’Donoghue with her. Bridget spoke of her devastation and says she has wished she could turn the clock back so many times.

She said her last memory of Santina was her hugging and squeezing her and said she hoped in Santina’s last moment, she remembered and felt the love of her mother, her grandmother and her family.

Meanwhile a senior officer involved in the investigation says justice for the toddler has been his team’s ultimate goal for the past three years.

Detective Inspector Danny Coholan described the investigation as a particularly emotive case for the Gardaí who attended the scene and for the investigation team, many of whom he said had children of a similar age to Santina.

Detective Inspector Coholan thanked the community for their assistance and cooperation with his team throughout the investigation. He said the early provision of statements, CCTV, social media videos, doorbell cameras and co-operation with house-to-house enquiries greatly aided the investigation.

He said his team would like to extend their sympathies to Santina’s family and said An Garda Síochána will continue to support them as they grieve for her.

Karen Harrington is now beginning a life sentence at the women’s prison in Limerick.



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