Santina Cawley’s father says child killer Karen Harrington’s victim impact statement is ‘full of shit’

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Father of murdered child Santina Cawley has slammed a victim impact statement from his child’s killer as ‘full of shit’ – adding he’s glad it was ‘f**ked out of court’ .

Convicted child murderer Karen Harrington, who was assaulted by murder victim’s father Michael Cawley 18 months after beating the two-year-old to death, prepared the statement ahead of her conviction for the assault this week.

The Sunday World has since learned that the reason parts of the statement were rejected by the court was that Harrington abused the victim impact statement process to again deny his guilt in Santina’s murder.

A source revealed: “His statement largely focused on his murder conviction and his views on that conviction.

“She continues to deny any responsibility. For this reason, the court had no choice but to dismiss the statement.

“Victim impact statements are limited to injuries and effects, but it took a tangent related to his perspective on his sentencing.”

It emerged this week that Harrington is now appealing his conviction for Santina’s murder. The documents relating to his challenge were filed on May 30, but no date has been set for the case to be brought before the Court of Appeal.

Cawley, who received a 10-month suspended prison sentence after pleading guilty to assault causing harm to Harrington, told The Sunday World he was glad the court refused to hear Harrington’s final denials .

“It was full of shit and fucked off the pitch,” he said.

“At the end of the day, I’m still the victim here. It was my little girl who was murdered.

“And look, I’m very happy with the justice that was done.”

Cawley, of Leeside Apartments in Bachelor’s Quay, Cork, appeared in Cork District Court on Wednesday on a charge of assault causing damage to Karen Harrington, 37, on January 26, 2021.

The court heard the offense happened 18 months after Santina was found with catastrophic injuries in Elderwood Park on Boreenmanna Road, Cork.

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

Guard Sergeant Pat Lyons told Cork District Court on Wednesday that Cawley, 37, spotted his former partner Karen Harrington on a bus at Merchant’s Quay in Cork City in January 2021.

He boarded the bus and threw his former girlfriend to the ground before kicking her several times in the chest and stomach.

Sgt Lyons said the attack was caught on CCTV.

Harrington suffered soft tissue injuries to his chest as a result of the incident.

After the assault, Cawley reported to Bridewell Garda station in Cork City, where he told officers what had happened.

He made himself available to Gardaí and cooperated fully with the investigation of the incident.

Sergeant Lyons said the defendant had previous convictions for four assaults causing damage dating back to 2004 in County Clare, for which he received two concurrent three-year terms.

Cawley was also convicted of possession of a weapon and breaching a court order in 2018.

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

Mr. Buttimer noted the seriousness of the breach and said he was not trying to downplay it.

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

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

She has since been found guilty of murdering the toddler.

“The aggrieved party in this case was out on bail at the time of this incident – proceedings against her were due to continue around this time but had to be adjourned due to Covid-19 when my client had a totally random with her,” Mr. Buttimer said.

“My client saw the victim board a bus, he got on, approached her and the incident happened as described – he assaulted her in a momentary loss of composure and sanity , and it was as described, lasting about 10-15 seconds,” he added.

Mr Buttimer stressed that his client immediately went to the Garda post after the attack.

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

He said Cawley didn’t understand why Karen Harrington pleaded not guilty in the case.

“He accepts the loss of reason and that he should have trusted the judicial process rather than taking the law into his own hands,” Mr Buttimer added.

Sergeant Lyons told Judge Olann that Judge Olann Kelleher said the state was submitting a victim impact statement on Harrington’s behalf. However, he said the statement went well beyond the assault and he was unsure of its relevance.

Mr Buttimer told the court he was very concerned about Ms Harrington’s victim impact statement as it deviated from the purpose of such a statement.

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

However, after reading the statement, he found that Harrington had developed questions that were irrelevant to the case.

“There are items in Ms Harrington’s victim impact statement that are irrelevant to this case – I cannot consider them, and I will not,” Judge Kelleher said.

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 someone with a history of violence and he was concerned about that.

“This is a very serious charge – he attacked a woman on the bus, threw her to the ground and kicked her repeatedly – given his story, this is obviously a very violent man…

“I accept his guilty plea but he cannot take justice into his own hands and he must pay the consequences,” he added.

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

He sentenced Cawley to 10 months in prison, but he suspended the entire sentence on the condition that he keep order and behave himself 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 town.

Harrington had vehemently denied any responsibility for the little girl’s death.

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