A 13-month-old girl was sexually assaulted by her father shortly before her sudden death, a family court judge has ruled.
Poppi Worthington was found with serious injuries at her home in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria. She was pronounced dead in December 2012 after being taken to hospital.
At Liverpool Crown Court, Mr Justice Peter Jackson said that, on the balance of probabilities, Paul Worthington “perpetrated a penetrative… assault on Poppi”.
In August 2013, her father was arrested and questioned on suspicion of sexual assault, but he was never charged with any offence.
Worthington, 47, has denied any wrongdoing.
The actions of the police and the local authorities following Poppi’s death have come under fire in earlier hearings.
In March 2014, a fact-finding judgement on the circumstances of Poppi’s death was delivered but its publication was delayed for fear it would prejudice criminal proceedings. In October 2014, an inquest took only seven minutes to declare Poppi’s death as unexplained.
Cumbria Police said, in March 2015, no charges would be brought against anyone over Poppi’s death.
Mr Justice Jackson’s ruling comes after three medical experts said in December they disagreed with the findings of a Home Office pathologist who carried out a post-mortem examination on Poppi. In an open court, they stated they believed she was the victim of “a penetrative sexual assault”.
Following a review of the medical evidence, Mr Justice Jackson said on Tuesday he arrived at the same conclusion as expressed in the previous judgment. He dismissed Worthington’s appeal against his 2014 findings.
Mr Justice Jackson said: “My finding [in my previous judgment] was that the father perpetrated a penetrative… assault on Poppi… That remains my conclusion.”
Additional reporting by PA
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