No ‘real’ investigation into death of 13-month-old Poppi Worthington, judge says

Published: Wednesday 25th November 2015 by The News Editor

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No “real” police investigation took place into the sudden and unexpected death of a 13-month-old girl for nine months, a High Court judge has revealed.

Senior detectives in Cumbria thought a pathologist “may have jumped to conclusions” when she raised suspicions about the death of Poppi Worthington in December 2012.

They decided not to investigate until the full post-mortem report was ready but it was not finished until the following summer, according to a fact-finding family court judgment which was released for the first time today.

By that time the body of the Barrow-in-Furness toddler had been released by the local coroner and she was buried in February 2013.

The eventual report indicated the cause of Poppi’s death was “unascertained” but raised concerns.

Her parents were arrested in August 2013 when they were formally interviewed for the first time, with her father, Paul Worthington, 47, being questioned on suspicion of sexually assaulting her – an allegation he denies.

A host of failings by police in that intervening period were identified in March 2014 by High Court judge Mr Justice Peter Jackson as part of the care proceedings in relation to other children in the family.

He noted: “Due to the extreme delay in that process, there was no real investigation into P’s (Poppi) death for nine months.

“Such minimal investigation as thereafter took place was inevitably affected by the delay and by actions not taken at an earlier stage.”

Among the omissions were items not being preserved for forensic analysis either at the home or at the hospital after Poppi’s collapse and the scene at the house not being secured.

The last used nappy believed to have been worn by Poppi was removed from the house by a relative with the knowledge of a police officer and placed in an outside bin – but was not found in a later search the same day.

Against national protocol no senior investigating officer immediately attended the home to ensure evidence was preserved properly, while no witness statements were taken until September 2013.

The details have emerged ahead of a review of medical evidence, starting in Liverpool today, which led to the judgment as Mr Justice Jackson ruled this month the time had come for “as much information as possible” to be placed in the public domain after submissions from a number of media organisations.

Further redactions to the partially released judgment were made after lawyers for the officially appointed Children’s Guardian went to the Court of Appeal to argue that revealing of the information to the media could harm the interests of Poppi’s siblings.

The 2014 judgment will be published in full when Mr Justice Jackson reaches his findings from the present hearing at Liverpool Family Court.

Published: Wednesday 25th November 2015 by The News Editor

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