If there is one thing I cannot stand it’s cases that have resulted in the death of a child due to cock ups by “professionals” who are supposed to protect children. The Daily Mail and other media sources campaigned to have the details of the Poppi Worthington case released and they are horrifying to say the least.
Poppi Worthington was 13 months old when she was subjected to horrific sexual assault by her father, Paul, that resulted in her death in December 2012.
On the night of the assault- assault seems to mild a word in fairness- Poppi was a bit ‘snuffy’ but otherwise well. Her mother put her to bed at about 7pm. Poppi’s mother then watched television downstairs and at about 9pm Paul went upstairs with his laptop and went to bed. He admits he checked out some sports results which he had put bets on then watched some porn- which he told police involved adults- before falling asleep.
Poppi’s mum, at about 2am, went to get the laptop for her own personal use as Paul slept.
Paul gave his own version of what happened that night, however, the judge was not convinced. He claims he was woken in the early hours by a scream or cry for Poppi’s room. He went into her room and he claims that he found her ‘rigid and stiff’.
He gave her a cuddle and took her into his bedroom and laid her on the bed crossways. He brought a clean nappy from downstairs, but did not change her, and got back into bed. After a few minutes he says, he put out his hand and touched Poppi and found that she had gone “limp”.
He then ran downstairs wither her and called out to her mother to get an ambulance. The call to 999 was made at 5.56am and the ambulance arrived at 6:05am. The paramedic described Poppi as being ‘very pale, waxy and obviously not breathing’.
In the ambulance the cardiac monitor showed that Poppi’s heart was not beating. On the way to the hospital birth paramedics and her father tried reviving her.
On arrival at 6:11am, Poppi was taken immediately to the resuscitation room. A locus consultant paediatrician led the challenging attempt to restart Poppi’s heart, which continued for 57 minutes, during which she received fluids and adrenaline.
Poppi was pronounced dead at 7:07am.
The police were obviously present, they arrived at the house before the ambulance left, one officer remained with the family until 7:22am when she was relieved of her duties whilst the other went with the family to the hospital.
At 9:40am a crime scene investigator attended and took photographs and a video.
At 10:15am, Detective A Sadler, attended the hospital with a colleague and inspected Poppi’s body. Upon inspection, they noticed some blood trickling down her leg when they moved her body. Poppi’s mother and father were then spoken to by the police at the hospital.
During the course of the morning, Paul was permitted to go to the toilet where he could of washed away any crucial DNA that would have been evidence if a criminal case was brought against him. Swabs were not taken from him until later that afternoon.
There were other crucial evidence that was lost during the attempt to save Poppi’s life. The gloves the paramedic wore were thrown away, the stretcher sheet, which had blood and other bodily fluids on it and which might have held significant evidence, was not preserved.
A police officer saw a used nappy on the floor near the fireplace in Poppi’s home. The nappy was believed to be the last one Poppi had worn but her paternal aunt had put it in the bin and it was never retrieved.
Other items which were not preserved for forensic analysis included Poppi’s pillow, her clothing, the bedsheet from her parents bed or any other items that may have been used during the assault.
Conveniently, the laptop owned by Paul ‘went missing’.
The scene at the house was not secured as a crime scene and no reconstruction with the parents took place.
Cumbria County Council held a meeting on the day of Poppi’s death, a paediatrician with responsibility to safeguarding children said Poppi had suffered from chronic constipation and this may have accounted for the blood coming from the top of her legs. This was obviously wrong, she did not suffer from constipation, but it was accepted as fact at the time and probably had a bearing on many important decisions that followed.
Poppi’s body was transferred to the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital on December 14th and an X-ray revealed two broken bones in one of her legs.
Mr Justice Jackson concluded that in the absence of any proper investigation into the injury, the cause could not be determined.
Common sense might dictate that this might have given cause for concern over the other five children, then aged between 13 months and 8 years-old, remaining in the care of Mr & Mrs Worthington.
However, it was another 4 weeks after Poppi’s death before they were examined by doctors, although no sign of injury was found. No X-Ray’s were taken.
Experts said Poppi’s injuries would have caused significant pain that would have been apparent to the parents. Both parents denied knowledge of the injuries.
Two pathologists were instructed by the coroner to examine Poppi’s body, however, because of ‘other commitments’ the examination didn’t take place until 5 days after Poppi’s death.
One of the pathologists was deeply concerned when they found bruising and tearing. The next day they contacted Detective Sadler to express concerns that Poppi had been subjected to a ‘penetrative act’.
Despite the gravity of the charge, another officer, DCI Forrester, would not permit even basic tests to be conducted, refusing to authorise forensic testing of any samples or items sized, apart from Poppi’s blood.
On the 24th of December, one of the pathologists contacted DI Sadler to state that she believed that Poppi had not died from natural causes but as a result of an unlawful act. However, despite these concerns, the pathologist did not complete her report into Poppi’s death until 6 months later- June 25th 2013.
She explained that in such a severe case, she wanted to have all the laboratory results before making an official finding. Although usually, pathologists provide preliminary findings to the coroner.
The report issued by the other pathologist was not filed until July 2013, had filed an interim report in February, found no evidence of death by natural causes-such as a seizure etc- in her report either.
Despite the postmortem report having yet to be published, poppi’s body was released and she was buried on February 19th 2013.
In August 2013, M Scarborough of LGC Forensics, a forensic science organisation with laboratories all over the world, was instructed by police to carry out forensic tests.
Scarborough found that Poppi’s DNA was present on an intimate part of Mr Worthington’s body, identified from the swab taken on the afternoon of Poppi’s death, although not to the degree that might have been expected had he committed an unlawful act, and it was noted that this could have been the result of secondary transfer (from his hands to his penis during urination).
Even though there had been a clear suggestion of sexual assault, Cumbria Constabulary failed to use a paediatrician with specialist knowledge of investigating sexual abuse.
Having considered the various reports, police arrested Mr Worthington and Poppi’s mother on August 27th 2013 and placed them on bail.
The mother was to have no unsupervised can contact with a child and the father was to have no contact with a child under the age of 13. They were interviewed and papers relating to the case were sent to the Crown Prosecution Service in November 2013.
In September 2013, the council became aware the mother was having unsupervised contact with her children and two months later, the children were finally removed from the house and put into foster care.
On March 28th 2014, a two-week fact-finding hearing was held at the High Court in London, where all available evidence was heard.
Justice Jackson found in his findings, police officers involved in the case were removed and replaced. The Independent Police Complaints Commission began an investigation.
In June 2014, Cumbria County Council applied to the judge for a secrecy order to keep all facts about Poppi’s death, including the actions of the police, social workers and medical staff, suppressed for 15 years. The council’s solicitors argued that ‘disclosure of alleged shortcomings by agencies might be unfair to the agencies’.
In July 2014, Associated Newspapers and other media groups, requested that Justice Jackson refused Cumbria’s sweeping request and the judge rejected the council’s call for secrecy. However, Mr Worthington’s name was not released to the public until December 2014 after another campaign for openness at yet another hearing.
Full details of the circumstances surrounding a death are usually given during an inquest, however, at Poppi’s inquest, held by coroner I Smith in October 2014, no details were given.
The inquest took place nearly 3 years after her death, delayed possibly as a result of the police investigation and lasted just 7 minutes. 2 days later Smith retired.
On January 14 2015, Cumbria’s new coroner, D Roberts, requested a fresh inquest.
The National Crime Agency then instructed pathologist Dr Cary to examine Poppi’s case.
He suggested that Poppi may have died from a haemorrhage caused by infection but Justice Jackson rejected this theory as there was compelling evidence to support the sexual assault allegation.
However, 2 days later the CPS said there was insufficient evidence to bring criminal charges.
Justice Jackson was not finished there. In March 2015 he disclosed that Poppi’s father, Mr Worthington, who must have been pleased with the pathologists infection theory, requested another Family Court fact-finding hearing and 8 months later the judge ordered a new fact-finding hearing to e held in Liverpool in November 2015. The hearing took place over 5 days at a substantial cost to the taxpayer.
On January 19th 2016, Justic Jackson’s findings of Poppi’s death being caused by the sexual assault she suffered at the hands of her father was made public.
Mr Worthington’s sister told sources that “he has had to leave the country because of the persecution. People keep knocking on my door asking where he is, but he is not here… He is not even in this town, he has gone. He had to leave because of all the persecution over Facebook… He is devastated. He hasn’t done ‘owt and is being accused of something horrendous as this”
The CPS have now confirmed that they are reviewing the case of their decision not to pursue criminal charges following he High Court family judge’s ruling.
So will there be justice for Poppi? Will her father be sentenced? Or will he simply get away with murder? And what about the so-called professionals who failed to bring him to justice and who basically made a complete arise-end of the investigation? Will they be struck off? Will they have to face consequences for making such a mess of things?
My guess is that we will never know.