Child killer Karen Harrington enjoying art class with prisoners ‘not considered a threat to her’

The murderer who killed little Santina Cawley in Cork City is taking art classes and vocational training with other prisoners who are not seen as a threat to her.

Child killer Karen Harrington is behind bars in Limerick prison, where it is understood she is in protective custody after prison bosses identified several jails that could pose a threat to her.

It is understood that following a risk assessment, a number of prisoners inside Limerick Jail have been identified as being at risk of attacking the 38-year-old, due to the fact that she is a child killer.



Karen Harrington hours before she was found guilty of Santina’s murder

Although she is isolated from the general prison population, the Irish Mirror reports that it is understood that Harrington can mingle and attend classes with prisoners who are not considered a threat to her.

It is understood that the killer can now attend a weekly art class, vocational training classes and other educational activities, where she will be closely monitored by prison staff.

The change comes after the killer was released from compulsory five-day Covid-19 isolation last week – and ten days later since she was found guilty of murdering baby Santina in July 2019 .



Santina Cawley, two, died at Elderwood Apartments, Cork. Provision’s photo

However, sources have told our sister newspaper that there remains a lingering concern for the killer’s safety behind bars – and it is believed she may need to remain in protective custody for some time.

“Karen Harrington is a high risk prisoner and will need to be watched closely,” a source said.

“A risk assessment has been carried out and it has been determined that a number of prisoners could potentially pose a threat to her at this time.

“So for her own safety, she is under protection. But that doesn’t mean she won’t come into contact with prisoners who pose no threat to her, while engaging with prison services.



Karen Harrington leaves Cork District Court

Sources say prison bosses are also not considering moving Harrington to Dochas Prison in Dublin at this time – as the threat to her is not believed to be any lesser there.

“She will be in this protective situation for a while until things calm down,” a source said.

The development comes after Santina’s heartbroken father Michael said he thinks his former partner Karen should be given the death penalty.

“We wouldn’t be able to live in the same world as her if she came out.

“She must die in prison,” Michael previously told the newspaper.



Santina Cawley’s father, Michael Cawley, pictured during the trial at Cork Central Criminal Court. Pic Daragh McSweeney/Cork Courts Limited

“This should never happen to a child in Ireland again.

“I wish the death penalty could be reinstated in Ireland for circumstances like this. I would prefer it to be the law,” he said.

“It’s my wish for her.”

Michael said he not only wishes he could take back that horrible night in July 2019 – but also his meeting and relationship with the woman who murdered his child.

“I am haunted by the horrors of this one. I wish I could go back in time and never meet Karen in the first place,” Michael said.

What he went through that night and the days that followed is still too painful for Michael – and he says he will have to deal with this grief for years.

“She was such a beautiful child. I loved her so much. It breaks my heart that she is gone,” he said.



A simple tribute outside the flat where 2-year-old Santina Cawley was found in Cork

“I remember her everyday like it was yesterday. It’s hard to move on, but I have to learn to live with it, hard as it is,” he said.

Meanwhile, Santina’s mother, Bridget O’Donoghue, has spoken of her grief after the verdict last week.

In an interview with Virgin Media News, Bridget said she had one more burning question for Harrington.

“Why did she kill my baby. What did she do to him?

“She’s only two years old. She’s just a baby like. What did she do? Nothing at all,” she said.



Santina Cawley’s mother, Bridget O’Donoghue, pictured during the trial at Cork Central Criminal Court. Pic Daragh McSweeney/Cork Courts Limited

Bridget also explained how she arrived at the hospital and was offered the opportunity to hold her daughter to say goodbye.

“I had to walk into that room and they said you wanted to hold it. I said, ‘So what do I want? Of course I want to hold her.

“I held her and tried to rub her back because she was cold. I was trying to warm her up.

“I didn’t want to believe she was dead,” she said.

“All I wanted was to take her home.

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