A father will not face criminal investigation despite a High Court judge finding that he sexually assaulted his 13-month daughter in the hours before her sudden death. Poppi Worthington died after being found with serious injuries in her family home in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria on 12 December 2012.
During a hearing at Liverpool Crown Court on 19 January 2016 High Court family judge Mr Justice Peter Jackson said that her father, Paul Worthington, on the balance of probabilities, "perpetrated a penetrative assault" on his daughter. He was arrested afterwards on suspicion of sexual assault but was not charged with any offence by Cumbria Police.
The 47-year-old has persistently denied committing any crimes and issued a statement after the hearing rejecting the findings and affirmed he had never hurt his daughter. And he will not face trial unless fresh and compelling new evidence is discovered that will trigger a new criminal investigation.
The court had heard how, according to her father, Poppi awoke screaming at around 5.45am. She was rushed to hospital but died. A post-mortem found that he had a fracture of her right lower leg and other acute injuries.
Cumbria Police, who were criticised by the judge for their subsequent investigation announced in March 2015 that no charges would be brought against anyone over the toddler's death. The force have referred themselves to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and will present their findings to a second inquest into Poppi's death which is imminent.
Worthington had previously asserted Poppi could have died due to a viral infection. The court also heard that he watched pornography just before Poppi's death, which he said "involved adults".
Justice Jackson said he was "not impressed" with Worthington's version of events leading up to her death. But in a statement released by Worthington's lawyers he said: "Mr Worthington does not accept the findings of the court.
"Mr Worthington maintains that he has given a truthful account of the events of 12.12.12 and that he has not hurt his daughter." Dr Alison Armour, who believed Poppi was the victim of "a penetrative sexual assault", said the leg fractures were unusual for a child of Poppi's age.
Justice Jackson said according to the BBC: "Careful assessment of the meticulous pathological and paediatric evidence has clearly established that (Poppi's) injuries were the result of trauma from outside the body."
Cumbria Police were said to have failed to preserve vital items for forensic analysis, did not properly secure the scene, check Worthington's phone calls, botched forensic analysis of clothing, and lost evidence. All the medical experts who reviewed the case agreed the cause of death is "unascertained".
Responding to the latest judgement, a Cumbria Police spokesman said: "The Constabulary are fully aware of Mr Justice Jackson's criticisms of the initial investigation and have assessed these. One officer was suspended and has since retired, another two were moved into different roles. One of those officers is currently undergoing performance proceedings and the second officer has been dealt with by management action."