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TRIAL LATEST Neighbour ran to apartment of Santina Cawley murder accused after hearing screaming, court told

A Central Criminal Court murder trial was told by Aoife Niamh McGaley that she was very worried for Ms Harrington after hearing the disturbance in the early hours of July 5, 2019, at the Cork apartment complex where they lived.

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Santina Cawley died on July 5, 2019

Santina Cawley died on July 5, 2019

Santina Cawley died on July 5, 2019

A NEIGHBOUR ran to the apartment of murder accused Karen Harrington (37) after hearing screaming, arguing and the sound of breaking glass in the early hours of the morning.

A Central Criminal Court murder trial was told by Aoife Niamh McGaley that she was very worried for Ms Harrington after hearing the disturbance in the early hours of July 5, 2019, at the Cork apartment complex where they lived.

Karen Harrington of Lakelands Crescent, Mahon, Cork has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Santina Cawley (2) at a Central Criminal Court trial in Cork before Mr Justice Michael MacGrath and a jury of seven men and five women.

Santina was found with critical injuries at 26 Elderwood Park off the Boreenamanna Road in Cork city at 5am on July 5 2019.

Karen Harrington lived in the flat at the time.

The little girl was discovered badly injured when her father, Michael Cawley (37), returned to his then-girlfriend's flat having left the property two hours earlier at 3am to walk alone into Cork city centre in a bid to locate his Limerick cousin.

Despite desperate efforts by doctors and paramedics to stabilise the condition of the little girl, she was pronounced dead a short time after being rushed to Cork University Hospital (CUH).

Ms McGaley, a neighbour of Karen Harrington, said she heard the sound of arguing, breaking glass and screaming coming from the neighbouring apartment in the early hours of July 5.

"I heard noise...I heard shouting. It was 3am ish? I heard arguing and it sounded like arguing between a man and a woman. It was muffled."

"It was a bit after that that I heard Karen screaming. (She was shouting): 'I am going to tell them all.' Then I heard glass smash but it didn't make sense at all."

The witness said she believed one of the voices involved in the argument was quite deep.

Later, she heard the sound of a woman screaming.

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"She (Karen) was screaming - I'll tell, I'll tell."

"I was in my bedroom. I immediately jumped up. I grabbed my hoodie and threw it on. I ran up my stairs and down to Karen's apartment."

Ms Galey said she knocked repeatedly on the door to check on the welfare of Karen Harrington.

The witness said she was convinced she heard the sounds of an argument between a man and a woman coming from the flat.

"I could make out (the sound of) someone sobbing. At that point I was very, very concerned."

A short time later, Karen Harrington opened her door.

"She (Karen) looked very distressed. She looked very upset. She was quieter in herself."

Ms McGaley said she spotted a Betty Boo statue that Karen Harrington adored lying smashed inside the apartment with bits scattered over the floor.

"She (Karen) kept apologising (for the noise). She said she didn't mean to cause (a problem)."

"Karen came up and turned - I noticed a mark on the side of her face. It looked like a chunk (of her hair) had been torn down."

Ms McGaley said Karen Harrington apologised to her for the noise and indicated that she was now going to bed.

But she said she did not believe that the sound of breaking glass she had heard earlier involved a drinking glass being dropped in the kitchen.

"I got the impression she (Karen) was scared of something," she said.

"I got an uneasy feeling for her."

Ms McGaley said she did not see anyone else in the apartment - and returned to her own home when she was assured by Karen Harrington that she was going to bed.

"(But) I wasn't happy with the situation at all. I went back to my own apartment. But I definitely heard arguing with someone with a deep voice."

She was so concerned she decided to ring Karen Harrington's sister about the events that had occurred.

That phone call was made at 3.27am - and at 3.42am Karen Harrington rang her looking for a light for a cigarette.

Around 5am, Ms McGaley said she heard further screaming.

"She was outside the apartment screaming to Dylan and Colm. She was screaming: 'Dylan, come on, come on - call the guards. Colm, Colm."

"She was screaming to some guy called Dylan and some guy called Colm - she wanted them to call the Gardaí."

A short time later, Ms McGaley said she then heard the sound of a man wailing.

The trial was told last week that Santina had suffered devastating injuries including a fractured skull, a traumatic brain injury as well as a serious spinal injury.

Sean Gillane SC, for the State, said that little Santina's injuries could not have been suffered in the normal rough and tumble of child play.

A post mortem examination was conducted at CUH which found Santina had sustained poly trauma and "devastating injuries with no chance of recovery."

When Gardai searched Harrington's apartment they discovered blood stains and clumps of the child's hair lying torn out by a couch.

A stud from Santina's left ear lobe was found lying on the floor.

"There was scarcely a part of her body that did not display some form of trauma," Mr Gillane said.

The trial, which is expected to last up to five weeks, continues.

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