Poppi's mother 'angry and disappointed' as CPS rules out charges against father
The mother of a 13-month-old girl who was sexually abused by her father before her death has said she is "angry and disappointed" with the decision not to bring about any charges.
Following a review of the case by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), a statement released on Thursday morning said there was "insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction" against Paul Worthington over the death of daughter Poppi.
In a statement, Poppi's mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said she was "desperate" to understand more about the police investigations and the events leading up to the little girl's sudden death.
Solicitor Fiona McGhie, of law firm Irwin Mitchell, said on her behalf: "This is obviously a very distressing time for Poppi's mother and she is desperate to understand more about the police investigations and the events leading up to Poppi's death.
"She is angry and disappointed with the decision by the Crown Prosecution Service and wishes to be given time and space at this difficult time as we approach the inquest."
Poppi collapsed with serious injuries at her home in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, on December 12 2012 and was rushed to hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Mr Worthington, who was arrested and questioned on suspicion of sexual assault in August 2013, has always denied any wrongdoing.
But High Court judge Mr Justice Peter Jackson ruled in January this year that the 48-year-old "perpetrated a penetrative ... assault" before Poppi's death.
Cumbria Police have since apologised to the family of Poppi Worthington for their investigation failings.
The Chief Constable of Cumbria Police Jerry Graham said that investigations had fallen "well short" of the standard that should have been expected and that it had hindered the "ability of legal proceedings charged with the responsibility of determining what happened to Poppi".
Mr Justice Jackson's ruling, which was made as part of care proceedings involving siblings of Poppi, also concluded that Cumbria Police had conducted no "real" investigation for nine months into her death and highlighted a list of basic errors in evidence gathering.
Mr Graham said: "I have read and considered all the available reports relating to Cumbria Constabulary's handling of the initial investigation into Poppi's death.
"I am absolutely clear that the Constabulary's initial investigation fell well short of the standard that could and indeed should have been expected. For this I would like to make a full and heartfelt apology to Poppi's family and all those who loved her."
He said that there had been "a number of faults" in the conduct of the initial police investigation and outlined main failings.
These included a failure to secure and preserve potentially relevant evidence from Poppi's home address or the hospital to which she was taken, a failure to conduct a thorough investigation in a timely or effective manner - particularly the length of time to obtain witness statements and formally interview key witnesses.
Other failures included the length of time taken to send off forensic evidence for analysis, a failure to keep timely and accurate records setting out the rationale for why decisions were taken, and a failure to share relevant concerns with local authority colleagues with responsibility for safeguarding.
Mr Graham added: "I believe that the potential cumulative impact of these investigative failings has meant that: the ability of legal proceedings charged with the responsibility of determining what happened to Poppi has been hindered. Crucially, evidence has not been able to be tested to the criminal law standard of beyond reasonable doubt."
He added: "A failure to pass on concerns to local authority partners may have hindered their ability to make important safeguarding decisions. Most importantly, flaws in the initial police investigation contributed to Poppi's family not receiving the professional response that they were entitled to expect."
A CPS spokesman said: "The CPS has looked at the original decision in this case that there was insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction - as we often do in other cases. We have reached the same conclusion."
Poppi's death had been shrouded in secrecy, with a 2014 fact-finding civil court judgment being kept private so as not to prejudice any criminal proceedings, while an inquest controversially took only seven minutes to declare her death was "unexplained".
During the civil proceedings it emerged that Mr Worthington watched pornography on his laptop in bed in the hours before his daughter's death, which he described as "involving adults".
The little girl was buried in February 2013, precluding a further post-mortem examination, after her body was released by the local coroner.
There was said to be an "absence of evidence" to find out how Poppi died, or definitively prove if or how she was injured.
Cumbria Police made a self-referral to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) in June 2014.
The force later confirmed three officers were subject to the IPCC probe - which has yet to be published - with one suspended and two others moved into different roles.
The suspended officer has since retired, one was dealt with by management action and the other is awaiting "performance proceedings".