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Poppi Worthington's father 'flees country' as case is reviewed

Published 22/01/2016

Paul Worthington's sister has said he has fled the country
Paul Worthington's sister has said he has fled 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.

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

Speaking to The Guardian 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."

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 a number of 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.

Ms Worthington told the BBC that her brother "wouldn't hurt his children".

"He is not even in this town, he has gone. He had to leave because of all the persecution over Facebook.

"He is devastated. He hasn't done 'owt and he is being accused of something as horrendous as this."

The Daily Mail reports that the officer who is to undergo a third stage performance meeting as a result of the IPCC probe is former beauty queen and Miss Great Britain 1989, Detective Inspector Amanda Sadler.

The inquiry has the power to dismiss the serving Cumbria Constabulary officer if gross incompetence is proved.

The IPCC said that a second officer has received management action.

A third officer cited in the report, believed to be then detective chief inspector Mike Forrester, has since retired from the force.

A statement from the IPCC said: "The IPCC undertook a thorough, independent investigation into Cumbria Constabulary's handling of a criminal inquiry into the tragic death of Poppi Worthington. The investigation report was submitted to Cumbria Constabulary in 2015.

"As a result of the evidence we presented, one serving officer is to face a third stage performance meeting - which has the power of dismissal if gross incompetence is proved. A second officer has received management action. A third officer cited in the report has since retired from the force."

The IPCC will consider publication of its investigation report once all relevant proceedings have concluded.

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