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Thursday, 23 November 2017

Father accused of sexual abuse to give evidence at Poppi Worthington inquest

Written by Kim Pilling

A father alleged to have sexually assaulted his 13-month-old daughter shortly before she collapsed and died is set to give evidence in person at her inquest next week.

Lawyers for Paul Worthington, 49, had argued he should be excused attendance at the hearing in Kendal, Cumbria, because he had received death threats and his human rights would be protected by appearing in court via videolink.

However, Mr Worthington, who has always strenuously denied any wrongdoing to his daughter Poppi, is among a list of witnesses called to appear before HM Coroner for Cumbria, David Roberts, from Monday.

The hearing at the town's County Hall is the second inquest into the death of the Barrow-in-Furness youngster - ordered by the High Court after the first in 2014 for "a child aged 13 months" lasted just seven minutes and called no evidence.

Poppi (pictured) died in December 2012 after she collapsed suddenly at home.

In January 2016, family court judge Mr Justice Peter Jackson ruled that on the balance of probabilities, Mr Worthington assaulted his daughter before her collapse.

But the Crown Prosecution Service later said there was "insufficient evidence" to charge the supermarket worker.

In his fact-finding judgment, Mr Justice Jackson said Cumbria Police had conducted no "real" investigation for nine months, as senior detectives thought a pathologist who examined Poppi's body "may have jumped to conclusions" that the youngster had been abused.

In March, an Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) report concluded that senior detectives probing Poppi's death were "unstructured and disorganised", and highlighted the delay into a criminal investigation taking place "despite there being significant suspicious circumstances from the outset".

Mr Justice Jackson was based in the Family Division of the High Court in London when he analysed Poppi's case. He has since been promoted to the Court of Appeal and is now Lord Justice Peter Jackson.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2017, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) PA Wire.