Cumbria

Poppi Worthington death: 'No evidence' for sex abuse theory

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

The lawyer representing the father of a 13-month-old girl has told a hearing there is no evidence she was sexually abused before she died.

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

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

Details of his daughter's unexplained death were kept secret until last week.

Reviewing medical evidence, Liverpool Family Court has heard experts' differences of opinion on the cause and nature of Poppi's injuries.

Pathologist Dr Alison Armour, who carried out the post-mortem examination, said Poppi had been sexually assaulted before her death.

Other experts have questioned the way she interpreted some medical evidence.

No-one has been able to offer alternative explanations for the injuries found on Poppi's body.

Karl Rowley QC, representing Mr Worthington, questioned Dr Armour's conclusions Poppi had been abused.

He told the hearing the "preponderance of evidence points away from Poppi being subjected to sexual abuse by her father or anyone else".

Image caption Paul Worthington denies any wrongdoing

The judge, Mr Justice Peter Jackson, criticised Cumbria Police not carrying out a proper investigation for nine months, deciding to wait for a full post-mortem report.

By the time it was finished Poppi's body had been released and buried, after an inquest lasting just seven minutes.

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

Failures by police and Cumbria County Council were kept secret until the media challenged this in court and Mr Justice Peter Jackson agreed that "as much information as possible" should be made public.

The court heard there was now an "absence of evidence" to prove how Poppi died.

Cumbria Police have said no charges would be brought over her death but "lessons have been learnt" from the case.

Mr Justice Peter Jackson will give his judgment on the case in January.

A second inquest into Poppi's death ordered by a senior judge is still to be heard.

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