Poppi Worthington’s father broke down in tears when asked if he had sexually abused her, but refused to answer.Paul Worthington refused to clarify discrepancies in the statement he gave to police when questioned for a second day at the new inquest into the death of his 13-month-old daughter.The 49-year-old began to sob and was given five minutes to compose himself.Poppi died suddenly at a house in Barrow, Cumbria, in December 2012. No-one has ever been prosecuted.Mr Worthington, who has always denied any wrongdoing, was escorted into the hearing in Kendal by police officers for his own protection.
The barrister for the coroner, Alison Hewitt, had asked him about discrepancies in timings and other details in his police statement.He has maintained his right not to reply to questions, under rule 22 of the Coroner’s Inquest Rules 2013 – which protects witnesses from incriminating themselves.He continued to refuse to answer when Ms Hewitt asked him if he had abused his daughter, or if at any point he had placed her face down on a pillow or held his hand or anything over her face.Ms Hewitt asked if he could think of any reason why Poppi would have bled from her bottom or have a fractured leg, and he again declined to answer.
Ms Hewitt then asked him about a swab that was done which showed he had Poppi’s DNA on his penis.In a statement to police, Paul Worthington had explained this by saying he had put his fingers in his daughter’s mouth when he tried to resuscitate her, and he did not wash them before he later used the toilet.He has now used his right to refuse to answer 180 questions over two days, including ones about her meals, sleeping patterns and health.After his 100th refusal Poppi’s mother – who cannot be named for legal reasons – left the hearing.
Coroner David Roberts said “no inference” should be drawn from Mr Worthington’s use of rule 22, and he would not be criticised “for exercising his right”.He then said to him: “Today is an opportunity for you to tell me anything you think might help me understand how Poppi came by her death.”I would not want you to leave this court feeling you had not had the opportunity to tell me what happened.”Is there anything you would like to tell me?”Mr Worthington, who was starting to shake, replied: “No sir.”
The courtroom was then cleared as Mr Worthington left by a side door into a waiting police vehicle.He has never been charged with any offence and denies any responsibility over her death.Later the inquest heard statements from three police officers who carried out a search of the Worthington home between 15:21 and 16:11 on 12 December, more than eight hours after Poppi’s death.They seized 19 items including bedding from Poppi’s cot, duvets used by her mother on the sofa and Paul Worthington in the double bed, a box of used syringes and two containers of medication.Also seized were one dirty nappy from the kitchen bin and three dirty nappies from the wheelie bin outside.Also seized were dummies and children’s drink bottles.Former Det Con Lindsey Bolton told the hearing a laptop Mr Worthington used to watch “adult X-rated” porn in bed on the night Poppi died was never recovered by Cumbria Police and there was no “proactive” attempts by officers to trace it.Mr Worthington later told her he had sold the laptop to a man in Millom and he would try to get it back to hand to police for examination.The former officer was asked if Mr Worthington made efforts to retrieve the laptop. She replied: “Not to my knowledge.”Det Insp John Carton, who was a Det Sgt in Cumbria Police’s Public Protection Unit at the time of Poppi’s death, told the inquest that the bed sheet the toddler had been laying on was not taken from the scene because it did not have any visible marks on it.He added that no search was made for Poppi’s pyjama bottoms. The inquest has previously heard the pyjama bottoms have never been found. The new inquest, in County Hall, Kendal, was ordered after a seven-minute hearing in 2014 determined Poppi’s death was “unascertained”. In 2016, High Court family judge Mr Justice Peter Jackson ruled that Poppi was probably sexually assaulted by her father shortly before she died.
Source: BBC Cumbria