rejected | 

Santina Cawley's dad says child killer Karen Harrington's victim statement 'full of sh*t'

A source revealed: "Harrington's statement focused extensively on her conviction and she continues to deny responsibility"

Karen Harrington abused court process

Patrick O'Connell

The father of murdered tot Santina Cawley has slammed a victim impact statement from his child's killer as 'full of sh*t' - adding he was glad it got 'f**ked out of court'.

Convicted child-murderer Karen Harrington, who was assaulted by murder victim Santina's dad Michael Cawley 18 months after she beat the two-year-old to death, prepared the statement ahead of his sentencing for the assault this week.

The Sunday World has since learned the reason why portions of the statement were rejected by the court was because Harrington abused the victim impact statement process to again deny her culpability for Santina's murder.

A source revealed: "Her statement focused extensively on her murder conviction and her views on that conviction.

"She continues to deny responsibility. For that reason, the court had no choice but to reject the statement.

"Victim impact statements are confined to injury and effect, but this went off on a tangent relating to her views on her conviction."

Santina Cawley

It emerged this week that Harrington is now appealing her conviction for the murder of Santina. Papers in respect of her challenge were submitted on May 30 last though no date has been set for the matter to come before the Court of Appeal.

Cawley, who was given a 10-month suspended sentence after he pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to Harrington, told the Sunday World he was glad the court had refused to hear Harrington's latest denials.

"It was full of sh*t and f**ked out of the court," he said.

"At the end of the day I am still the victim here. It's my little girl who was murdered.

"And look, I am very happy with the justice that was served."

Cawley, of Leeside Apartments in Bachelor's Quay, Cork appeared before Cork District Court on Wednesday in connection with a charge of assault causing harm to 37-year-old Karen Harrington on January 26, 2021.

The court heard the offence had occurred 18 months after Santina was found with catastrophic injuries at Elderwood Park in Boreenmanna Road, in Cork.

The child was rushed by ambulance to Cork University Hospital where she died on the morning of July 5, 2019.

Garda Sergeant Pat Lyons told Cork District Court on Wednesday that 37-year-old Cawley had spotted his former partner Karen Harrington boarding a bus at Merchant's Quay in Cork city in January 2021.

He went on board the bus and threw his former partner to the ground before going on to kick her a number of times in the chest and the stomach.

Sgt Lyons said the attack was caught on CCTV.

Harrington sustained soft tissue injuries to her chest arising out of the incident.

Following the assault, Cawley presented at the Bridewell Garda Station in Cork City, where he told officers what had happened.

He made himself available to Gardaí and co-operated fully with the probe into the incident.

Sgt Lyons said the defendant had four previous convictions for assault causing harm dating back to 2004 in Co. Clare, for which he received two concurrent three-year sentences.

Cawley also had a conviction for possession of a weapon and a conviction for breaching a court order in 2018.

Defence solicitor Frank Buttimer told the court his client fully accepted responsibility for the assault on Ms Harrington.

Mr Buttimer noted the seriousness of the offence and said he was not seeking to downplay it.

However, he said it was important to give the court some context in the case. He said Cawley had been in a relationship with Harrington which ended in July 2019 when his daughter was murdered.

Mr Buttimer said that at the time the offence occurred Harrington was out on bail charged with the murder of his client's two-year-old daughter Santina.

She has since been convicted of the murder of the toddler.

"The injured party in this case was out on bail at the time of this incident - the proceedings against her were scheduled to go ahead around this time but had to be adjourned due to Covid-19 when my client had an entirely random encounter with her," said Mr Buttimer.

"My client saw the injured party get on a bus, he got on, approached her and the incident happened as described - he assaulted her in a momentary loss of composure and reason, and it was as described, lasting approximately 10 to 15 seconds," he added.

Mr Buttimer emphasised that his client immediately went to the Garda station after the assault.

He said that his client was under enormous strain at the time having not only lost his child but being aware of also having to attend a murder trial where he knew he would have to give evidence.

He said Cawley could not understand why Karen Harrington had entered a not guilty plea in the case.

"He accepts that the loss of reason and that he should have trusted the legal process rather than take the law into his own hands," Mr Buttimer added.

Sgt Lyons told Judge Olann Judge Olann Kelleher said that the State was submitting a victim impact statement on behalf of Harrington. However, he said the statement strayed well beyond the scope of the assault and he was not sure of its relevance.

Mr Buttimer told the court that he had very strong concerns about Ms Harrington's Victim Impact Statement given that it strayed from the point of such a statement.

Martin Cawley

Judge Kelleher said the purpose of a victim impact statement was to detail the impact of a crime on a person.

However, having read the statement he found Harrington had elaborated on matters that were not relevant to the case.

"There are matters in Ms Harrington's Victim Impact Statement that are not relevant to this case - I can't take them into account, and I won't," said Judge Kelleher.

He noted the guilty plea in the case which spared Harrington the trauma of having to testify.

However, he said it was clear from Cawley's previous convictions that he was a person with a history of violence and that concerned him.

"This is a very serious charge - he attacked a woman on the bus, knocked her to the ground and kicked her repeatedly - given his history, he is obviously a very violent man …

"I accept his guilty plea but he cannot take the law into his own hands and he must pay the consequences for that," he added.

Judge Kelleher said he had to mark the seriousness of the charge with a prison sentence.

He sentenced Cawley to 10 months in jail, but he suspended the sentence in its entirety on condition that he keep the peace and be of good behaviour for a period of two years.

Harrington of Lakelands Crescent in Mahon in Cork was jailed for life last month after a jury unanimously convicted her of the murder of Santina Cawley following a trial at the Central Criminal Court sitting in the city.

Harrington had vehemently denied any responsibility in relation to the death of the little girl.

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