Two-year-old Santina Cawley, found critically injured in an apartment in Cork in 2019, died of “force inflicted injuries” having suffered a traumatic brain injury, upper spinal cord injury along with polytrauma and leg injuries. lower extremities due to blunt force trauma.

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

At the time of the alleged crime, the 38-year-old man was in a relationship with Michael Cawley, the father of the deceased.

Karen Harrington, who has been charged with the murder of two-year-old Santina Cawley.

Michael Cawley, father of 2-year-old Santina at Cork Court.  Pic Michael Mac Sweeney / Provision
Michael Cawley, father of 2-year-old Santina at Cork Court. Pic Michael Mac Sweeney / Provision

Deputy State Pathologist Dr. Margaret Bolster detailed the 53 injuries the girl sustained before her death. Ms. Bolster told the jury of seven men and four women that she had performed more than 16,000 post-mortem examinations throughout her career.

She noted that Santina had a healed fracture in her left femur. However, Dr. Bolster stated that all the fractures and bruises that she recorded in the child’s autopsy were recent.

“There was no way she was walking around with these fractures.”

Dr. Bolster said the injuries were not consistent with a fall or accidental death.

“The pattern of injuries is not consistent with a fall or accident. Multiplicity and places of (injuries) (make the death not consistent with a fall).

If the head swings or hits something, that will cause movement in the brain and stretching of the spinal cord. Once the head injury was inflicted, she (Santina) would have been in a deep coma.

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Extensive damage occurred and the brain swelled. This was a severe and traumatic brain injury. She had bled around the spinal cord.”

Dr. Bolster said that once the head wound was inflicted, Santina would not have been able to cry. Indeed, the child “would have entered a deep coma.”

Dr Bolster noted signs of medical intervention on the body as desperate efforts were made at Cork University Hospital to save the boy.

He examined Santina from head to toe and recorded numerous bruises and abrasions all over the young woman’s body who was rushed to the hospital on the morning of July 5, 2019.

Santina died in her mother Bridget’s arms that morning shortly after nine.

Bridget O’Donoghue, mother of little Santina Cawley at Cork Central Criminal Court. Pic Cork Cuts Limited

A complex skull fracture with a 10 cm bone displacement was noted in addition to fractures to the right arm and the end of the lower femur, and two rib fractures. One to one centimeter deep bruises were recorded under Santina’s scalp.

The boy sustained bruising to his right upper arm, left upper arm, left elbow, chest and abdomen, left sternum, right chest, chest, and pelvis.

His injuries included bruising to his forehead, earlobes, cheeks, mouth, inner upper lip, and a laceration to the philtrum, which is the midline groove in the upper lip that runs from the top of the lip to nose.

Dr. Bolster said that the bruises covered the entire scalp. Bruises were also seen on the Adam’s apple, jaws, upper arms, legs, and on the back of the left foot and ankle. Santina had small pinpoint hemorrhages on the right side of her back. She also had bruises on the left side of her back.

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Dr Bolster said there was no evidence of any underlying disease in the boy. He added that he could not count the number of impacts (to the head).

“I can’t count the number of impacts.”

Dr. Bolster also examined the scene where Santina was found injured. She noticed traces of blood in the kitchen of the property at 26 Elderwood Park, broken glass and crockery on the floor, and an overturned chair. She found children’s clothing on the floor along with an earring missing from one of Santina’s ears. A blood-stained adult floral pant was also found in a bedroom at the scene.

The trial continues in front of Judge Michael McGrath and an eleven-person jury. The twelfth member of the jury was excused last week.

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