Cork gardaí: Toddler was at house party just hours before death

Gardaí involved in a murder inquiry following the death of a toddler in Cork City on Friday have established that the child was at a house party with her father and his partner just hours before her death.

Cork gardaí: Toddler was at house party just hours before death

Gardaí involved in a murder inquiry following the death of a toddler in Cork City on Friday have established that the child was at a house party with her father and his partner just hours before her death.

Santina Cawley, aged two, was in the company of her father, Mike Cawley, and his partner, who is not the child’s mother, at a party with a number of others in a property to the rear of the Elderwood complex off Boreenmanna Road early last Friday morning.

The adult female left with the child and returned to her apartment a few hundred yards away in the early hours of Friday morning.

Mr Cawley is understood to have returned to his partner’s apartment sometime later.

Neighbours raised the alarm at around 5.18am when they heard him shouting ‘my baby girl is dead’.

Gardaí found the toddler with severe injuries, including a traumatic head injury. She was rushed to Cork University Hospital but was pronounced dead a few hours later.

The apartment where she was found and the property where the party took place were sealed off for forensic examination by gardaí and two cars have been seized.

Detectives have been assessing witness statements taken from people who were at the house party, from neighbours canvassed during door-to-door inquiries, and they have been examining CCTV footage from the area.

Santina Cawley
Santina Cawley

Mr Cawley and his partner have made voluntary statements to gardaí. No arrests have been made yet.

Relatives of the tragic two-year-old took to social media yesterday to express their grief, describing Santina as a “little angel” and “a princess”.

“A beautiful angel — gone but not forgotten, loved and missed,” one wrote.

Mr Cawley, a father-of-three who has been living in Cork for several years, was a regular visitor to his partner’s apartment in Elderwood.

The child’s mother lives on the northside of Cork City and gardaí are liaising with her as funeral arrangements have yet to be made.

Canon James O’Donovan, the parish priest of Ballinlough, offered prayers at masses locally yesterday for the child, her family, and for those affected by her death.

“That child is an angel in heaven now,” he said.

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