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Laptop ‘of Poppi Worthington’s father’ contains ‘no evidence of crime’, say police

A laptop belonging to the father of Poppi Worthington and used on the night she died contains ‘no evidence of crime’, police have said.   

Paul Worthington, 50, told police he had viewed adult porn on the laptop, but officers did not seize the computer at the time.  

It was one of a series of failures by Cumbria Police, who failed to secure the family home in Barrow-in-Furness and did not collect key evidence, including the bed sheets Poppi was taken to hospital on or samples from her body. 

Poppi Worthington died at her home in Cumbria in 2012. No-one has been prosecuted over the 13-month-old's sexual abuse and death in December 2012.

Poppi Worthington died at her home in Cumbria in 2012. No-one has been prosecuted over the 13-month-old's sexual abuse and death in December 2012.

Poppi Worthington died at her home in Cumbria in 2012. No-one has been prosecuted over the 13-month-old’s sexual abuse and death in December 2012.

It means no-one has been prosecuted over the 13-month-old’s sexual abuse and death in December 2012. 

The laptop was eventually recovered after police arrested a 39-year-old Barrow man in March this year on suspicion of assisting an offender. 

Cumbria Police said in a statement today: ‘We can confirm that a laptop seized by officers, as part of an investigative inquiry concerning the death of Poppi Worthington, does not contain any evidence of criminal activity.

Paul Worthington has never faced court over Poppi's death after refusing to answer 252 questions at her inquest

Paul Worthington has never faced court over Poppi's death after refusing to answer 252 questions at her inquest

Paul Worthington has never faced court over Poppi’s death after refusing to answer 252 questions at her inquest

‘The laptop has been subject to meticulous forensic physical and digital examination by accredited forensic examiners in accordance with national best practice. This was subsequently independently assessed by another police force.

‘The constabulary are confident that the laptop is the one used by Paul Worthington at the time of Poppi’s death.

‘All examinations resulted in no evidence of criminality being found.

‘The Crown Prosecution Service have been made aware of the results of the laptop examination.’

The 39-year-old man co-operated with the investigation and has been released with no further action.

Paramedics were called to the Worthington family home on the morning of December 12, 2012.

Poppi was taken to Furness General Hospital where she was pronounced dead shortly after 7am.  

Worthington was not arrested until August 2013, and no charges were brought.

Earlier this year, the Crown Prosecution Service ruled out what would have been a fourth review of evidence, saying no new witnesses had come forward.  

A coroner ruled Poppi was sexually abused after her father took her into his bed, pictured

A coroner ruled Poppi was sexually abused after her father took her into his bed, pictured

A coroner ruled Poppi was sexually abused after her father took her into his bed, pictured

The cot where Poppi Worthington slept on December 11 and 12, 2012

The cot where Poppi Worthington slept on December 11 and 12, 2012

The cot where Poppi Worthington slept on December 11 and 12, 2012

Three attempts at a prosecution have failed, primarily because of a lack of evidence gathered by police at the time of Poppi’s death in 2012 in Barrow in Furness, Cumbria.

The first attempt was in March 2015, following a referral from police; then in June 2016, following the outcome of a Family Court hearing; and again in November 2016, when the decision not to prosecute was subject to a Victim’s Right to Review application.

An inquest in January found she was anally penetrated in her father’s double bed, although Cumbria coroner David Roberts said her death did not result from the abuse and that the toddler suffocated as she slept next to her father in an ‘unsafe sleeping environment’.

The ruling came after judgments by a High Court family judge in 2014 and 2016 that – on the balance of probabilities – Poppi was abused by her father shortly before her death.

The Crown Prosecution Service previously ruled Mr Worthington will not face any legal action.

He strenuously denies any wrongdoing and is now living in hiding with the help of police protection. 

‘Irregular’ inquest, a father in hiding and an ‘unstructured’ approach by police: Timeline of Poppi’s death

Here are the key events surrounding the death of Poppi Worthington:

  • December 12 2012 – Poppi Worthington dies suddenly aged 13 months after she collapses at her home in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, and is rushed to hospital.
  • February 2013 – Poppi is buried after the coroner releases her body.
  • June 2013 – A full post-mortem report indicates the cause of death is unascertained.
  • August 2013 – Poppi’s parents are arrested and formally interviewed for the first time. Poppi’s father, Paul Worthington, is questioned on suspicion of sexually assaulting his daughter – an allegation he denies.
  • March 2014 – Fact-finding judgment on the circumstances of Poppi’s death is delivered in private as part of family court proceedings involving other children in the family. Its publication is delayed in case it prejudices any criminal trial.
  • October 2014 – HM Coroner for South Cumbria, Ian Smith – now retired – holds an inquest at Barrow Town Hall and takes just seven minutes to declare her death as unexplained after stating he was satisfied to rely on the findings of the private fact-finding judgment. The case is not listed in Poppi’s name but as ‘a child aged 13 months’.
  • January 2015 – HM Senior Coroner for Cumbria, David Roberts, confirms he will ask for a fresh inquest in a written reply to lawyers representing various media organisations who argued the October hearing was insufficient and therefore unlawful.
  • March 2015 – Cumbria Police announce no charges will be brought against anyone over Poppi’s death after they had previously passed a file to the Crown Prosecution Service for its consideration.
  • April 2015 – Paul Worthington is granted a review of the March 2014 medical evidence, which further delays publication of the original fact-finding judgment.
  • July 2015 – High Court judges order a fresh inquest into the youngster’s death after the first hearing was deemed ‘irregular’.
  • November 2015 – A hearing reviewing the medical evidence from the March 2014 court proceedings gets under way in Liverpool. Ahead of the hearing, Mr Justice Peter Jackson (now Lord Justice Peter Jackson) releases parts of his original fact-finding judgment which reveal that Cumbria Police did not conduct any ‘real’ investigation into Poppi’s death for nine months despite a senior pathologist raising concerns the girl’s injuries were caused by ‘a penetrative sexual assault’.
  • January 19 2016 – The judge announced his findings that – on the balance of probabilities – Mr Worthington had sexually assaulted Poppi shortly before her death.
  • January 21 2016 – Paul Worthington’s sister Tracy tells reporters that he has left Cumbria after being ‘hounded’. 
  • June 2016 – A Serious Case Review finds that Poppi’s mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had a ‘difficult and traumatic childhood’ in a family ‘with intergenerational experiences of neglect and abuse’. It also reveals that Paul Worthington is an ex-partner of a woman who was feared to have sexually exploited Poppi’s mother.
  • July 2016 – The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) says there is ‘insufficient evidence’ to charge Paul Worthington with any offence over his daughter’s death.
  • November 2016 – The CPS states that its decision not to charge was correct following an independent review of the evidence, prompted by a request under the victims’ right to review scheme.
  • March 3 2017 – The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) finally publishes its 2015 findings into the initial police probe over Poppi’s death. It finds the approach of senior detectives was ‘unstructured and disorganised’ and that there were enough grounds to make an arrest on the day of Poppi’s death.
  • November 27, 2017 – The second inquest starts at County Hall, Kendal, and hears more than three weeks of evidence.
  • January 15 2018 – Coroner rules Poppi was sexually abused by her father before she died, and her death was caused by asphyxia.
  • March 15 2018 – Crown Prosecution Service says there will be no further review into Poppi’s death.
  • July 17 2018 – Police find missing laptop that could prove Poppi’s father watched porn the night.
  • October 12 2018 – The laptop is found to contain ‘no evidence of criminality’.

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