Little Poppi Worthington was sexually assaulted, coroner rules

Henrietta Brewer
January 16, 2018

The mother of Poppi Worthington has called on prosecutors to re-examine the death of the toddler after a coroner ruled that she was sexually assaulted in her father's bed before dying of asphyxiation.

The "fit and active" 13-month-old was in an "unsafe" sleeping environment and suffered injuries to her bottom caused by penetration, Cumbria's senior coroner David Roberts said.

Although satisfied that she was penetrated before her death, he concluded she did not die immediately afterwards and that penetration did not cause her death.

Her lawyer Fiona McGhie said the mum - who can not be named for legal reasons - was "disappointed" Mr Worthington refused to answer 252 questions about his daughter's death during the inquest.

In January 2016 - as part of family court proceedings involving Poppi's siblings - a judge revealed his findings that Worthington probably sexually assaulted his daughter by anal penetration shortly before her death.

It was not until eight months after the day she died that Worthington was arrested and questioned by police.

Poppi Worthington suffocated when she fell asleep next to her father Paul after he had abused her in 2012, an inquest found.

"But with the evidence I had, I could not say beyond all reasonable doubt Mr Worthington attacked Poppi".

He reserved his right to silence to avoid incriminating himself even when asked if he smothered Poppi as he abused her.

Poppi's mother, who is not named for legal reasons, left the coroners court in tears as the coroner continued with his narrative conclusion.

The startling revelation came as Worthington spoke from behind a 7ft screen in the courtroom.

Forthright criticisms of the investigation by Cumbria Police were made by the coroner during his conclusion.

Worthington may once have believed he would escape unscathed from Poppi's death.

However, he accepted that improvements had now been secured by the constabulary to ensure failures of this nature could not be repeated. He has denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged with any offence following a bungled investigation by Cumbria Police in which vital evidence was not gathered.

Poppi's mother, who can not be named for legal reasons, issued a statement through her lawyer, Fiona McGhie following the ruling today. He said the child was taken from her cot and put in Paul Worthington's double bed, where she was anally penetrated.

"While she understands he is entitled to do this, she considers that the coroner's inquiry has been frustrated by this, she considers he should have given the coroner the crucial evidence of Poppi's last few hours".

Instead, he referred to his right under rule 22 of the Coroners and Justice Act, not to answer any questions that might incriminate him.

"She asks that her privacy is respected at this hard time".

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