TODDLER Poppi Worthington was sexually abused before her death, a coroner has ruled.
The ‘fit and active’ 13-month-old was in an ‘unsafe’ sleeping environment and suffered injuries to her bottom caused by penetration, Cumbria’s senior coroner David Roberts said.
Mr Roberts gave his conclusions today following a three-week inquest before Christmas at which Poppi’s father Paul Worthington refused to answer questions about her death 252 times.
The coroner said Worthington’s account did not ‘stand up to scrutiny’.
The otherwise healthy youngster woke up screaming at about 5.30am on December 12, 2012, at the family home in Barrow-in-Furness and her father put her in his bed and went to get a fresh nappy, the inquest at Kendal Coroner’s Court had heard.
He claimed that when he returned, she had settled but five or 10 minutes later he reached over and she was limp.
He claimed he then rushed downstairs and the child’s mother, who was sleeping downstairs, called an ambulance.
Paramedics carried out a ‘scoop and run’, delivering the apparently lifeless girl to Furness General Hospital at 6.11am but she never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead shortly after 7am.
Medics noted she was bleeding from her bottom.
In January 2016 — as part of family court proceedings involving Poppi’s siblings — a judge revealed his findings that Worthington probably sexually assaulted his daughter by anal penetration shortly before her death.
Worthington has denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged with any offence as the Crown Prosecution Service say there is insufficient evidence.
He has been living in hiding since the family court proceedings were made public.
The inquest heard that an investigation by Cumbria Police was so botched that vital evidence was lost, so exactly what happened to Poppi will never be known and no-one will be charged with any offence over her death.
Worthington has never been charged with any offence and denies any wrongdoing.
The second inquest into Poppi’s death was ordered after the controversial first hearing — held by a different coroner — was shrouded in secrecy and lasted just seven minutes.
Poppi was listed as ‘a child aged 13 months’ at the first inquest in 2014 and her death was declared as unexplained.
Poppi’s mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, looked red-eyed and close to tears for much of today’s three-hour hearing.
In a statement, Mr Worthington’s lawyers, Farley Solicitors, said: ‘Mr Worthington is considering his options following the coroner’s conclusion today and we are advising him not to say anything further at this point.’