Mother of tragic Poppi Worthington 'disappointed' as prosecution ruled out again

The mother of tragic toddler Poppi Worthington is "extremely disappointed" lawyers have ruled out a prosecution over her daughter's death, her solicitor said.

Paul Worthington, 50, the child's father, will not face any legal action, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said, despite a court having three times found he probably sexually abused his daughter before her sudden death.

But "grotesque failures" by Cumbria Police who lost evidence during their botched investigation means no one has ever been prosecuted over the apparent sexual assault of the 13-month-old shortly before she died.

Mr Worthington, who denies any wrongdoing, is now living in hiding with the help of police protection.

Poppi Worthington's father Paul Worthington gave evidence at Kendal County Hall in Cumbria (Elizabeth Cook/PA)
Poppi Worthington's father Paul Worthington gave evidence at Kendal County Hall in Cumbria (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

The "fit and active" infant suffered injuries to her bottom and woke up screaming at about 5.30am on December 12 2012 at the family home in Barrow-in-Furness.

Paramedics carried out a "scoop and run", delivering the apparently lifeless girl to Furness General Hospital at 6.11am but she never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead shortly after 7am.

In January the senior coroner for Cumbria, David Roberts, concluded Poppi was anally penetrated in her father's double bed at the family home.

The ruling on the balance of probabilities effectively mirrored two earlier fact-finding judgments by a High Court family judge in 2014 and 2016 that Poppi's father abused his daughter shortly before her death.

Mr Roberts ruled out penetration as the cause of death and said Poppi suffocated as she slept next to her father.

He said the account of events on the night given by Mr Worthington, who refused to answer questions about her death 252 times so as not to potentially incriminate himself, "do not stand up to scrutiny."

But the CPS said on Thursday a senior prosecutor had again concluded no new evidence had emerged during the inquest and a decision had been made not to review the case again.

It rules out a prosecution relating to Poppi's apparent sexual assault and death.

Fiona McGhie, a lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing Poppi's mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said on her behalf: "The latest inquest into Poppi's death was the third time a court has found, on the balance of probabilities, that Poppi was sexually assaulted prior to death and Poppi's mother is extremely disappointed that this is not enough for the CPS to undertake a further review of the case.

"She was also left disappointed that Poppi's father chose to rely on his right not to answer many questions which may incriminate him at the inquest and while she understands he was entitled to do this, she considers that the coroner's inquiry was frustrated by this.

"The past five years have been a complete nightmare for her. Not knowing what happened to Poppi on that day, and knowing that there were evidence gathering failures by the police in the very early stages of the investigation has made things even worse.

"Although she is now closer to the devastating truth, it is likely that she may never get full closure on exactly what happened that night."

Local MP John Woodcock, who has has called for a public inquiry, said: "This fresh knock-back was expected but it stings because it is a fresh reminder of the terrible failings in the police
investigation that have made a criminal conviction so difficult.

"The re-referral to the CPS after the second inquest was necessary but this conclusion always felt inevitable given how much evidence was lost or not collected by the police after Poppi died.

"This decision does at least mean the Home Secretary has no barrier to taking forward steps to restore confidence in our police force. I will be contacting her again once this immediate crisis triggered by the Russian Salisbury incident has settled."

In a statement the CPS said: "In order to prosecute, a reviewing lawyer would have to be satisfied that an objective, impartial and reasonable jury, properly directed and acting in accordance with the law, would be more likely than not
to convict - that is, be satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt of guilt.

"On each of the three previous occasions, the prosecutor decided that a jury would be unlikely to be so satisfied that Poppi had been sexually assaulted bearing in mind, primarily, the opposing medical opinion and the absence of evidence from the investigation.

"No new witness was called at the inquest whose evidence had not already been considered by the CPS prosecutors.

"No new evidence emerged which was capable of affecting the decisions not to prosecute.

"Accordingly there will not be a fourth full review of this case by the CPS."

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