Cumbria toddler Poppi Worthington was sexually assaulted by her father before she died. With her death being as a result asphyxia. No one has ever been charged with her death or sexual assault due to lack of evidence.
Coroner David Roberts stated that Paul Worthington assaulted his daughter in his own bed, laid a cover over Poppi and went to sleep.
13-month-old Poppi died because her ability to breathe was compromised as a result of “unsafe sleeping environment.”
And Mr Roberts believes that her fathers accounts of what happened to not “stand up to scrutiny.”
Her father failed to answer 252 questions put to him.
Poppi’s father during the three-week inquest at Kendal Coroner’s Court failed to answer 252 questions relating to the circumstances surrounding the death of his daughter on December 12th 2012.
One of the few questions he did answers told the court that he had gone to get Poppi a fresh nappy and a few minutes later he reached over and found Poppi limp.
He then rushed downstairs and woke her mother who called for an ambulance.
Poppi aged just 13-months-old was pronounced dead at Furness General Hospital.
Medical evidence suggests she was sexually assaulted with a finger
Having heard from expert medical witnesses Mr Roberts believed that Mr Worthington sexually assaulted Poppi with a finger and only stopped the attack when Poppi cried out in pain.
However he said a conclusion of unlawful killing was not available to him as he was not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Poppi died from an act of murder or manslaughter.
Telling the court “Although I have found, on the balance of probabilities, that Poppi was anally penetrated prior to her death, I have also found that she did not die in the course of or immediately following the penetration and the penetration did not cause her death.”
Mr Roberts added Poppi was suffering from an upper respiratory tract infection which, along with being placed in her father’s bed, compromised her ability to breathe.
A “short-form accidental death” verdict was also considered but ruled out as inappropriate as he did not conclude the death had resulted from an “unintended act or omission or is the unintended consequence of a deliberate act or omission”.
Never charged due to insufficient evidence
Mr Worthington is now considering his legal options with his lawyers after it was found the Mr Worthington “probably” sexually assaulted his daughter before she died.
He has throughout the investigation denied any wrong doing and has not been charged with any offence.
the Crown Prosecution Service found there was insufficient evidence to support the allegation
During the inquest Mr Worthington declined to answer more than 250 questions, citing his right under rule 22 of the Coroners and Justice Act not to incriminate himself.
Crown Prosecution Service has no plans to review evidence.
Following the inquest CPS have confirmed they have no intentions to review the charges against MR Worthington.
A spokesman for CPS confirmed that they have no plans to review the charging decisions in relation to the case however would consider any new evidence.
Detective Inspector investigated and demoted
Lead detective on the inquiry Det Insp Amanda Sadler was subjected to a disciplinary hearing last year where gross incompetency was proven and she was demoted in rank.
She has since retired along with her boss, former Det Ch Insp Mike Forrester. No further action was taken against either.
In 2015, the Independent Police Complaints Commission concluded both Mrs Sadler and Mr Forrester had cases to answer for gross misconduct.
The inquest was the second hearing into Poppi’s death.
The first, in 2014 with a different coroner, lasted less than eight minutes and concluded the cause of her death was “unascertained”.
Independent Police Complaints Commission released a report on January 15th
The report read that “Poppi died in Furness General Hospital in Barrow-in-Furness on 12 December 2012. A second inquest into her death will take place in May 2017.
“The IPCC examined how Cumbria Constabulary investigated her death, focussing on whether all opportunities to obtain key evidence were identified and acted upon. Two lead detectives with overall responsibility for the inquiry, Detective Inspector (DI) Amanda Sadler and Detective Superintendent (DetSupt) Mike Forrester, and a third detective were subjects of the investigation.
“The IPCC found evidence that Poppi’s home was not adequately preserved and searched, resulting in a nappy she had been wearing being lost as potential evidence. There was also evidence indicating that key investigative decisions and policies were not documented, leaving junior detectives feeling “out of the loop” on how the inquiry was progressing.
“It was the investigator’s opinion that police did not adequately investigate whether Poppi had been abused. This concern was raised by a hospital doctor, at the post-mortem and then later discussed between the pathologist and the lead detective. However evidence suggested that detectives continued to focus on investigating a natural cause of death, disregarding the possibility of abuse and what the IPCC investigator considered to be a reasonable line of enquiry.
“The investigator also noted that witness accounts were not taken until after Poppi’s parents were arrested more than eight months after her death and the incident was not recorded as a crime until this point. However, the IPCC investigator accepted that different medical opinions about Poppi’s injuries, along with a six-month delay with the post-mortem report, caused the police inquiry some difficulties.
“The investigator was critical of the time Cumbria Constabulary took in referring this matter to the IPCC in April 2014, however no evidence was found to support the allegation that it tried to conceal its investigative failings.
“In the IPCC investigator’s opinion, both DI Sadler and DetSupt Forrester had cases to answer for gross misconduct, although DetSupt Forrester retired therefore no further action could be considered in his case. Unsatisfactory performance was identified for the third detective. The Constabulary determined unsatisfactory performance proceedings, to the level of gross incompetency, were more appropriate for DI Sadler, which was accepted by the IPCC Commissioner. Gross incompetency was proven at a disciplinary hearing and DI Sadler was demoted in rank. She has since retired from the force.
“IPCC Commissioner Carl Gumsley: “This is an extremely sad case. It is clear from the evidence presented that Cumbria Constabulary’s original inquiry into Poppi’s death was not fit for purpose with many enquiries not being actioned for several months. The entire inquiry did not reach a resolution until almost two years later.
“These findings posed serious questions for Cumbria Constabulary. I have been assured that the force has since attempted to address these failings. It is absolutely crucial that the force continues to improve to ensure this never happens again.
“I appreciate there is huge public interest in this case and there has been keenness for comprehensive details about the circumstances surrounding Poppi’s tragic death to be made available. The IPCC investigation concluded in March 2015 however detailed findings could not be published until now, as we had to ensure we did not prejudice the ongoing criminal, disciplinary and inquest processes. I know this has caused some frustration, however it was important that these judicial processes, designed to seek out the truth, were properly protected.”