Parents of murdered toddler Santina Cawley speak of great sense of loss

Michael Cawley and Bridget O’Donoghue in court to hear jury convict Karen Harrington

The parents of murdered toddler Santina Cawley have spoken of their great sense of loss.

Both Michael Cawley and Bridget O’Donoghue, who separated in March 2018, were at the Central Criminal Court in Cork to hear the jury convict Karen Harrington of the murder of their daughter on July 5th, 2019.

Mr Cawley told in his victim impact statement he was haunted by the scene that confronted him when he returned to Harrington’s apartment after leaving his daughter with his then partner.

“Santina was brutally murdered. The worst thing was finding her disfigured body under a blanket. I will be haunted by this horror for the remainder of my life.

“My future is now changed. The plans I had for Santina was to grow up to be a happy child, go to school, college and to travel the world together – now that dream is gone. I find it difficult to make new plans without her.”

Santina’s mother, Ms O’Donoghue, told in her victim impact statement how Santina was premature when she was born on May 6th, 2017, but was “a fighter” who was the baby of the family, and loved and adored by all.

“She loved her rhymes, her cartoons and Barney. She loved her trips to town with me and her nana on a Wednesday. She would hop into the buggy and knew the routine. She was very cute for her age. She was clever and bright. She knew all the names of the Teletubbies and was a happy child.

“She had an old soul. She seemed to be here before. She brought so much joy to our family and her brothers and sister adored her,” she said.

“My last memory of Santina was her hugging and squeezing me and not wanting to leave me. I regret leaving her so much that day. I wish I could go back in time. I never could have imagined I would get my baby back, passed away in my arms in a dreadful condition.”