Tuesday 15 October 2019

'How could you kill my baby? It was pure evil', says Santina's mother

Bridget O’Donoghue tends the grave of her murdered two-year-old daughter Santina Cawley
Bridget O’Donoghue tends the grave of her murdered two-year-old daughter Santina Cawley

The mother of two-year-old Santina Cawley, who was murdered in a Cork apartment, has described her daughter's killing as "pure evil".

The toddler's mother, Bridget O'Donoghue, has also made a heartbreaking appeal for her child's killer to confess to the murder.

Santina was discovered with serious injuries at a flat complex at Elderwood Park, near Boreenmanna Road, Co Cork, on the morning of July 5.

She was rushed to hospital but tragically later died as a result of her injuries.


In a heartbreaking interview with the Sunday World, Ms O'Donoghue described how she cradled her little girl in her arms on the morning of her murder as doctors switched off the respirator which was keeping her alive.

Ms O'Donoghue also revealed the extent of the injuries sustained by the "loving and happy" little Santina, whose cruel death her mum described as "pure evil".

"How could you kill my baby that way?" she asked.

"Her little body was broken.

"She had bruises going all the way down from her neck to her feet.

"Her beautiful little white teeth were broken when I held her in my arms.


"I was cradling her as they turned off the machine.

"I could feel the broken bones in the back of her head.

"All I could think was my beautiful little baby had been kicked around like a football," Ms O'Donoghue added.

"My poor Santina. She was always so happy and she never complained.

"Now she's here in a grave.

"Santina was an angel.

"Come forward and admit what you did to her. You took my baby's life… at least give her the justice she deserves."

She broke down as she spoke of her anger that Tusla had removed Santina from her care three months ago after the toddler broke her femur when she fell down some steps in her grandmother's apartment.

"She fell down three steps in the apartment and when she got back up I could see she wasn't walking right so I took her to the hospital," Ms O'Donoghue said.


"I begged them not to take her from me, but they said they'd made up their mind and there was nothing I could do.

"Her leg was in a cast and, because I've the four other children, they gave her to her father to look after while she was recovering.

"I'm so angry about that right now. If they hadn't taken her from me she'd still be here."

Detectives based at Anglesea Street Garda Station are continuing their murder probe and issued a fresh appeal for information last week.

A woman, who is aged in her 30s and was not related to the toddler, was previously arrested as part of the investigation but was later released without charge.

There were heartbreaking scenes at the funeral mass of Santina last week at the Cathedral of St Mary and St Anne in Cork.

Her father Michael Cawley stood throughout the entire mass with his hand resting on his little girl's coffin - only interrupting his tribute to comfort his distressed daughter and youngest son.

Anyone with information relevant to the case is asked to contact gardai at Anglesea Street Garda Station on 021 4522000 or the Garda Confidential Line (1800 666 111).

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