Poppi Worthington’s father was today rushed into his daughter’s inquest under police guard and demanded to give evidence from behind a screen so the public can’t see his face.
Paul Worthington, 49, has been accused of sexually assaulting the 13-month-old shortly before her tragic death in 2012 – but he escaped prosecution amid claims of a bungled Cumbria Police investigation.
Today Worthington arrived at Kendal Coroner’s Court in a blacked out van and rushed into court with his coat over his head accompanied by two uniformed officers.
At least ten more police were on duty outside the court despite no protesters being in attendance and a marked patrol car was sent to the building’s front door as the unmarked people carrier containing Worthington went to another entrance.
The force said afterwards they had helped him in to ensure his ‘safe arrival’ amid alleged threats.
His lawyer then asked for permission for him to give evidence from behind a screen after people said he should be ‘castrated’ or ‘killed’.
The lawyer representing Poppi Worthington’s mother, who cannot be named, told the coroner: ‘We support the powerful submissions made on behalf of the media and we support there should be no screen. She’s waited almost five years for this hearing’.
Poppi Worthington’s father Paul – who has been accused of abusing his daughter was rushed into coroner’s court under police guard today ahead of his evidence at his daughter’s inquest today
Today Worthington arrived at Kendal Coroner’s Court in a blacked out van and rushed into court with his coat over his head accompanied by two uniformed officers who bundled him inside
Poppi Worthington died in December 2012 after she collapsed at home at Barrow-in-Furness. In January 2014 a judge ruled that her father probably sexually assaulted her before her death
The doctor that battled to save the toddler was ‘suspicious’ of her injuries and revealed ‘blood was dribbling down her legs’, the inquest heard yesterday.
Poppi was just 13 months old when she rushed to Furness General Hospital, Cumbria and died.
She was cold, floppy, blue, had no heart beat or pulse and was bleeding when she arrived, the inquest heard.
In January 2016 High Court judge Justice Peter Jackson ruled that Worthington probably sexually assaulted his 13-month-old daughter in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, shortly before she died in 2012.
Poppi’s local MP John Woodcock has repeatedly demanded police re-open an investigation into whether Paul Worthington, 48, caused the toddler’s death to ‘salvage some prospect of justice’ for Poppi.
Speaking in the Commons last year he accused him of raping his daughter and said he may pose a risk to other children while he is ‘still walking free’.
He said: ‘Justice Jackson was clear that Paul Worthington raped that child and she died soon afterwards’.
Police failed to investigate until eight months later – despite medical experts Poppi had injuries consistent with a sex attack – and her father has not been prosecuted.
Today Worthington will give his version of events and he claims he found her lifeless in his bed and had nothing to do with it.
Defending the number of officers involved in protecting him a Cumbria Constabulary spokesman said: ‘Cumbria Constabulary this morning assisted in the arrival of Paul Worthington to Kendal County Hall, where he is due to give evidence at an inquest.
‘Security arrangements have been in place for Mr Worthington following threats made towards him.
‘To ensure Mr Worthington’s safe arrival, a number of police resources were in place.’
Yesterday consultant paediatrician Dr Osama Braima described how he fought to resuscitate Poppi for 57 minutes at Furness General Hospital before she was pronounced dead.
He noticed she was ‘pouring’ fresh blood after she died, she told the inquest.
He said: ‘I thought there was something wrong inside the child and I was not comfortable. I was suspicious.’
Poppi died from the injuries sustained shortly after her father, who had been watching pornography, took her into his bed at the family home in Barrow-in-Furness, in December 2012
Worthington strenuously denies any wrongdoing and has never been charged with any offence despite questions about his conduct
In January 2016 High Court judge Justice Peter Jackson ruled that Worthington (pictured) probably sexually assaulted his 13-month-old daughter
Kendal County Hall staff cover up the windows ahead of the arrival of Poppi Worthington’s father to prevent him being photographed
There was a huge amount of security outside the court amid fears of a backlash against Worthington, who claims he has had death threats
He alerted Children’s Services and examined her body again five hours later at 11am in the children’s ward.
He said Poppi was still bleeding fresh blood, which he found to be ‘unusual’.
The doctor said Poppi’s death was unexplained and it has played on his mind.
‘It has stuck with me as quite significant,’ he said. I have never seen an incident of this kind to any child in my career.’
THE 12 BASIC ERRORS IN THE INITIAL POLICE INVESTIGATION
1) Items at the hospital Poppi was taken to were not preserved for forensic analysis
2) Items at the family home were not preserved for forensic analysis
3) The scene at the family home was not secured, with Poppi’s last nappy being lost despite the presence of police officers
4) The detective inspector and another officer not visiting the home. According to national protocol, a senior officer should immediately attend the home to take charge of the investigation and ensure that evidence is intelligently preserved
5) No reconstruction with the parents at home so that their accounts could be understood and investigations focused
6) No forensic medical examination at the time of death. Swabs were not taken until post-mortem despite delays meaning forensic analysis can be prejudiced
7) No engagement of a paediatrician with specialist knowledge of investigating sexual abuse for there to be a physical examination of the child, a viewing of the home and a report for the pathologist
8) Dr Armour’s initial views were not clearly passed on to the local authority for safeguarding purposes
9) The parents were not formally interviewed until August 2013
10) Neither parent’s mobile telephone or Facebook accounts were analysed
11) Samples were not sent for analysis until after receipt of Dr Armour’s full report
12) No statements taken from any witnesses (paramedics, nurses, doctors, family members) until September 2013.
Poppi arrived by ambulance to hospital shortly after 6am on 12 December 2012.
Her First Aid trained father Paul, a former ASDA night shift worker, was in the back with her helping a paramedic perform CPR on the toddler.
Nurse Sarah McQuiston ran into the back scooped Poppi into her arms before rushing her into A&E.
She noticed Poppi was floppy, cold and blue and was bleeding bright red blood.
‘Blood was dribbling down her legs. She had no nappy on,’ Miss McQuiston told Kendal Coroner’s Court.
She said Poppi’s stomach was distended, bloated. ‘You could see it was quite tight, hard, a bit like a pregnant tummy,’ she said.
Clinical support worker Kelly Viceroy-Grieve liaised with Paul and Poppi’s in the hospital Relatives Room.
Paul has arrived in the ambulance dressed in just a blue t shirt and jeans. He had no coat and had no shoes or socks on, though he had brought them with him.
Miss Viceroy-Grieve said that Paul had told her that he had been still in his boxer shorts when the paramedic had arrived at their family home, in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.
Mother, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, arrived separately to Paul.
‘She was distraught, anxious, crying. She was talking more to Poppi’s dad, asking him questions ‘what’s happened? Is she still alive?’,’ said Miss Viceroy-Grieve.
She said Paul told her what had happened with Poppi.
She stated that he said: ‘She had woken up in her cot crying, so he put her into bed with him. He tried to give Poppi her dummy but she wouldn’t have it.
‘Poppi was making a face like she needed a poo, so he put his fingers on each side of her nappy to try to get the nappy from her bottom, so that she could try and push out with ease. He put two fingers on the side of her nappy so she could have a poo easily.’
Left: Nurse Sarah McQuiston, pictured today, told Kendal Coroner’s court that blood was dribbling down the child’s legs. Right: Tracy Anne Worthington, the aunt of Poppy and Paul Worthington’s sister, pictured arriving at the court yesterday
Poppi Worthington’s father Paul Worthington leaves Liverpool Civil and Family Courts after a hearing into the death of the 13-month-old in December 2012
Flowers laid at Poppi’s grave. An Independent Police Complaints Commission report concluded that senior detectives probing Poppi’s death were ‘unstructured and disorganised’
He explained that he went downstairs to get a nappy.
‘Paul said he went back upstairs to see Poppi and she was asleep and so he got back into bed with Poppi,’ Miss Viceroy-Grieve told Kendal Coroner’s Court.
He also added: ‘I don’t know why but I looked over to Poppi and touched her arm and it was lifeless.’
Earlier the inquest, which began on Monday, heard a harrowing 999 call from the girl’s mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, as her daughter lay dying.
This fresh inquest was ordered by the High Court after the controversial first hearing in 2014, held by a different coroner, was shrouded in secrecy with Poppi listed as ‘a child aged 13 months’.
Shortly before 6am on the day of her death, Mr Worthington, who had put Poppi in his bed with him, went downstairs with her lifeless body and emergency services were called.
Little over an hour later, at 7.07am, Poppi was pronounced dead at Furness General Hospital, just a day after she had taken her first two steps.
Poppi’s mother was frequently visibly distressed as she gave evidence earlier this week, describing her relationship with the toddler’s father as ‘up and down’.
She described her daughter as ‘very alive, bubbly’.
‘You knew she was there, there was no missing her,’ she said.
The inquest continues.
HOW THE DETAILS OF LITTLE POPPI’S DEATH REMAINED SECRET FOR YEARS BEFORE HER INQUEST
December 2012 – Poppi Worthington dies suddenly aged 13 months after she collapses at her home in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.
February 2013 – Poppi is buried after the coroner releases her body.
June 2013 – A full post-mortem report indicates the cause of death is unascertained.
August 2013 – Poppi’s parents are arrested and formally interviewed for the first time. Poppi’s father, Paul Worthington, is questioned on suspicion of sexually assaulting his daughter – an allegation he denies.
March 2014 – Fact-finding judgment on the circumstances of Poppi’s death is delivered in private as part of family court proceedings involving other children in the family. Its publication is delayed in case it prejudices any criminal trial.
October 2014 – HM Coroner for South Cumbria, Ian Smith, holds an inquest at Barrow Town Hall and takes just seven minutes to declare her death as unexplained after stating he was satisfied to rely on the findings of the private fact-finding judgment. The case is not listed in Poppi’s name but as ‘a child aged 13 months’.
January 2015 – Senior Coroner for Cumbria, David Roberts, confirms he will ask for a fresh inquest in a written reply to lawyers representing various media organisations who argued the October hearing was insufficient and therefore unlawful.
March 2015 – Cumbria Police announce no charges will be brought against anyone over Poppi’s death after they had previously passed a file to the Crown Prosecution Service for its consideration.
April 2015 – Paul Worthington is granted a review of the March 2014 medical evidence, which further delays publication of the original fact-finding judgment.
July 2015 – High Court judges order a fresh inquest into the youngster’s death after the first hearing was deemed ‘irregular’.
November 2015 – A hearing reviewing the medical evidence from the March 2014 court proceedings gets under way in Liverpool. Ahead of the hearing, Mr Justice Peter Jackson releases parts of his original fact-finding judgment which reveal that Cumbria Police did not conduct any ‘real’ investigation into Poppi’s death for nine months despite a senior pathologist raising concerns the girl’s injuries were caused by ‘a sexual assault’.
January 18 2016 – Mr Justice Peter Jackson announces his findings from the review hearing.
November 27 2017 – An inquest into her death finally begins