Poppi Worthington’s father LOSES bid to scratch from the record that he sexually assaulted his 13-month-old daughter before her death
- Toddler Poppi Worthington died at her home in Barrow-in-Furness in 2012
- Last year, a coroner found her father sexually abused her before her death
- This month, her father launched a legal challenge against the coroner’s finding
- High Court judge rejects his claims, ruling that the coroner ‘cannot be faulted’
Poppi Worthington’s father has lost a High Court challenge to a coroner’s ruling that he abused the toddler before her death.
Paul Worthington was previously found to have sexually assaulted his 13-month-old daughter before she passed away in 2012.
But he claimed Cumbria coroner David Roberts ‘over-stepped the mark’ and mounted a legal challenge in a bid to get the finding of abuse scratched from the record.
Today his case was thrown out by a High Court judge sitting in Manchester, who found there were insufficient grounds to undermine the coroner’s conclusion.
Senior judge Mrs Justice Farbey ruled the coroner’s approach ‘cannot be faulted’ and ordered Mr Worthington should pay the court costs, subject to his ability to pay.
Worthington’s case is being legally aided so it is understood the taxpayer will pay the legal bill.
13-month-old Poppi Worthington was found limp at the family home in Barrow-in-Furness in 2012. A coroner found her father had sexually assaulted her
Paul Worthington’s lawyers claimed the coroner ‘overstepped the mark’ but a High Court judge has kicked out his legal challenge to the finding
Worthington had objected to the coroner’s finding of sexual abuse in the ’cause of death’ section of his official conclusion into Poppi’s death.
Following the ruling, lawyers for Poppi’s mother released a statement saying she was ‘very disappointed’ her ex had tried to overturn the finding.
Fiona McGhie, a lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing Poppi’s mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said on her behalf: ‘The years since Poppi died have been a complete nightmare for her.
‘Not knowing what happened to Poppi on that day, and knowing that there were evidence gathering failures by the police in the very early stages of the investigation has made things even worse.
‘Although the latest inquest brought her closer to the devastating truth, it is likely that she may never get full closure on exactly what happened that night.
‘She was left disappointed that Poppi’s father chose to rely on his right not to answer many questions which may have incriminated him at the Inquest and while she understands he was entitled to do this, she considers that the coroner’s inquiry was frustrated by this.
‘She was very disappointed that he tried to challenge the coroner rather than accepting his findings but is relieved at today’s decision.’
Little Poppi collapsed in this double bed. A judge found she had probably been sexually assaulted by her father
This is the cot in which Poppi slept on the nights before she before died at the family home
Worthington refused to answer 252 questions about Poppi’s death during the inquest in November last year.
The coroner said he could not give a verdict of unlawful killing. He ruled the abuse was not a cause of death and that Poppi, who was suffering from a respiratory tract infection, had died from asphyxia because she had been placed in ‘an unsafe sleeping environment’.
Cumbria Police botched their investigation into Poppi’s death, losing vital evidence about her last hours.
After the inquest verdict, which was delayed until March this year, the Crown Prosecution Service ruled out what would have been a fourth review of evidence, saying no new information had been produced.
Three attempts at a prosecution have failed, primarily because of a lack of evidence gathered by police at the time of Poppi’s death in 2012.
In January 2016, High Court family judge Mr Justice Peter Jackson also said that ‘on the balance of probabilities’ Worthington sexually abused Poppi before her death.