Gardai launch murder inquiry as tributes to 'beautiful angel' Santina Cawley pour in
Tributes have poured in from the family and friends of tragic two-year-old Santina Cawley who was found beaten to death in a Cork city apartment.
A photo of Santina, who died during the early hours of Friday morning, depicts the tot drinking from her bottle from the backseat of a car.
The heartbroken uncle of the two-year-old took to social media to express his horror at the loss of his niece.
"Rip beautiful angel. Cruel world. Live life to the full and have no regrets," he wrote.
Dozens of other mourners also took to Facebook to pay their respects. "My heart is broken, I can't believe what has happened," said one family friend.
"I am so sorry from my heart and soul.
"May she rest in peace, God bless her and her family."
Another mourner wrote: She's in the arms of the angels now. God rest her poor soul.
"No one will never know the pain until the knock comes to your door."
Gardai are now following numerous inquiries following confirmation that Santina's death is now being treated as murder.
The father of the two-year-old girl, Mike Cawley, raised the alarm in the Elderwood Park apartment complex on Boreenmana Road on Cork's southside at 4.50am last Friday.
When gardai arrived at the scene, they discovered Santina lying unconscious on the living room floor of a third-floor apartment.
An initial examination showed she had suffered bone fractures, cuts and head injuries.
A large amount of blood was also present at the scene.
One of the first responders, a former Emergency Response Unit officer and advanced paramedic, worked to resuscitate Santina before the first ambulance crew arrived.
It is understood the child had been sleeping over at the apartment which is rented to a female friend of her father's. Her mother was not present.
Santina is understood to be the youngest of three children born to Mike Cawley and the children's mother, Bridget. On Saturday, a shocked neighbour told how she had been woken by the sound of screaming coming from an upstairs apartment in the complex.
The neighbour then said she was woken a second time at 4.50am to the sound of a man screaming.
It is thought that the first responders to the scene were gardai responding to a noise complaint.
They discovered Santina lying on the floor.
Sources confirmed she had received a number of cuts and multiple bone fractures.
Gardai have commenced a murder investigation, but no arrests have yet been made.