'˜Hounded' sex attack father flees the country

A father who was identified by a judge as sexually assaulting his 13-month-old daughter before her death, has fled the country, his sister has said.

Paul Worthington was identified by a judge as sexually assaulting his daughter Poppi. Picture: PA
Paul Worthington was identified by a judge as sexually assaulting his daughter Poppi. Picture: PA

After a family court judge ruled that Paul Worthington, 47, did assault toddler Poppi before her sudden death, Tracy Worthington said her brother has now left the country after being “hounded”.

She said: “He has had to leave the country because of this. People keep knocking on my door asking where he is, but he is not here.”

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Ms Worthington has denied that her brother – who was arrested and questioned on suspicion of sexual assault but never charged with any offence, sexually abused Poppi, adding that the police investigation had been “an absolute joke”.

The little girl was found with serious injuries at her home in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, and rushed to hospital, where she was pronounced dead in December 2012.

Mr Worthington denies any wrongdoing.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had previously decided there was “insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction”. However, the CPS has confirmed it is now “reviewing the case” of its decision not to pursue criminal charges following the High Court family judge’s ruling.

On Tuesday, Mr Justice Peter Jackson issued his second fact-finding judgment on the circumstances of Poppi’s death as part of care proceedings in relation to other children in the family. The judge, who had concluded in 2014 that Mr Worthington had – on the balance of probabilities – abused his daughter shortly before her death, arrived at the same conclusion after hearing from health experts last month. Mr Justice Jackson had already found Cumbria Police conducted no “real” investigation for nine months into the death of the toddler.

Following this Cumbria Police made a self-referral to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) in June 2014.

They later confirmed that three officers were subject to the IPCC probe with one officer suspended and two others moved into different roles.

On Thursday, the IPCC –which submitted its report to Cumbria Police in 2015 – said the serving officer with the outstanding disciplinary matters could be dismissed if gross incompetence was proved.