Cumbria

Poppi Worthington death: Inquest could put father in 'danger'

Poppi Worthington Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Poppi Worthington's father Paul denies any wrongdoing

Poppi Worthington's father could be put in "real danger" if he is called to give evidence in person at a second inquest, a hearing has been told.

The 13-month-old girl was sexually assaulted by Paul Worthington, 48, at her home in Barrow, Cumbria, before her sudden death in 2012, a judge ruled.

Senior coroner David Roberts quashed a previous inquest and ordered a new one.

At a pre-inquest hearing in Carlisle, Mr Worthington's lawyer requested that his client appears by videolink.

Paul Clark, representing Mr Worthington, said that practical consideration should be given to issues such as the venue, and spoke of the "level of risk and the level of intimidation he experiences on a daily basis".

Mr Roberts said: "I don't disagree, the matter needs to be managed. It's something we need to address."

Background to the case

Poppi Worthington, a 13-month-old from Barrow, died on 12 December 2012 after being admitted to hospital with serious injuries.

Her father Paul was subsequently arrested but no charges were brought.

In January a family court judge made public his ruling that, on the balance of probabilities, Mr Worthington had sexually abused Poppi shortly before her death.

Mr Worthington has always denied any wrongdoing.

Image copyright Kelvin Media
Image caption Paul Worthington denies harming his daughter

In October 2014 an inquest by former Cumbria coroner Ian Smith ruled the cause of Poppi's death was unexplained.

There have been calls for the criminal investigation against Mr Worthington to be reopened but investigators would need fresh evidence to allow that to happen.

Both Cumbria Police and Cumbria County Council have been criticised for their investigations of Poppi's death.

The Crown Prosecution Service said it is now reviewing the case following the family court's findings.

Mr Roberts will have to consider whether to adopt and admit Mr Justice Jackson's findings when the fresh inquest investigating Poppi's death gets under way in the Autumn. It is expected to last about a week.

Mr Clark said that it would be an "error" to adopt "opinion evidence".

Mr Roberts said: "There are a number of issues I need to think about" adding that he was "anxious to address the case", which was in the interests of everyone and not least Poppi.

Counsel to the inquest, Alison Hewitt, said the hearing would look at the cause of death as well as broader circumstances including whether any state agency knew or ought to have known about risks to Poppi and, if so, what steps were taken.

The IPCC is due to present its final report following the second inquest.

Image copyright Family photo
Image caption No-one has been charged in connection with Poppi's death

Related Topics

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites