Cumbria

Poppi Worthington death: Sex abuse theory queried by expert

Poppi Worthington Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Poppi Worthington died after being found with a serious injury at her home in Barrow

A claim that the death of a 13-month-old girl may have been caused by a sexual assault has been questioned in court by a forensic expert.

Poppi Worthington died after being found with a serious injury at her home in Barrow, Cumbria, in December 2012.

Her father, Paul Worthington, 47, was later questioned on suspicion of sexual assault but never charged with any offence. He denies any wrongdoing.

A family court hearing in Liverpool has been reviewing the medical evidence.

Forensic physician Dr Victoria Aziz told the hearing she disagreed with a claim Poppi died as a result of a sexual injury, saying she would have expected there to be more injuries on the child's body if she had been sexually abused.

Pathologist Dr Alison Armour, who carried out the post-mortem examination, has said she believes Poppi died from such abuse.

Dr Armour, who spoke at the hearing last week, said that the passing of time and the opinions of other doctors had not changed her mind.

Image caption Paul Worthington denies any wrongdoing

Cumbria Police has been criticised by the judge, Mr Justice Peter Jackson, for not carrying out a proper investigation into Poppi's death for nine months.

A spokesman for the force said three officers had been suspended.

Dr Aziz, who has many years of experience dealing with sexual abuse victims, said she disagreed that the baby had suffered the kind of attack Dr Amour believed she had.

Dr Aziz told the hearing she would have expected to have seen more significant injuries on Poppi's body.

Jane Cross QC, representing Cumbria County Council, said there was evidence that Poppi was bleeding when she was taken to hospital and asked Dr Aziz what could have caused it.

Dr Aziz said she could not answer the question because she was not a paediatrician.

Dr Aziz was then asked what could have been the reason for the bleeding.

She replied that although she accepted there was blood, she had no plausible explanation for what could have caused it.

Dr Aziz added it was not her field of expertise to say what had caused the bleeding.

The hearing continues.

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