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Injuries to Poppi Worthington strongly suspicious of child abuse, pathologist tells inquest

By Pat Hurst

A doctor has said she suspected child abuse on examining the body of Poppi Worthington, who was 'probably' sexually assaulted by her father before her death.

Home Office pathologist Alison Armour said further post-mortem examination showed that the 13-month-old had injuries to her thighs and rectum, Kendal Coroner's Court heard.

The otherwise healthy toddler collapsed at home in Barrow, Cumbria, and was pronounced dead in hospital an hour later.

Her father Paul Worthington (49), was ruled to have probably sexually assaulted her, according to a family court judge.

Detectives at Cumbria Police, who dismissed Dr Armour's initial view as "rash", botched their investigation.

Mr Worthington, who is now in hiding, has never been charged with any offence and denies any wrongdoing. The cause of Poppi's death remains "unascertained".

Last week he refused to answer questions 252 times at the inquest, using his legal right not to potentially incriminate himself.

Yesterday, Dr Armour stood in front of post-mortem photos of the youngster's body, shown on a large TV monitor, to explain her findings.

She said she was given a verbal briefing by police before the post-mortem examination began and was aware from earlier X-rays that Poppi had leg injuries before her death.

Alison Hewitt, counsel to the inquest, asked the witness: "Do you recall whether you expressed any view as to whether this is a case of child abuse?"

Dr Armour said there was no record of any accident to explain the leg injuries, which were only picked up after Poppi's death.

She added: "I was very concerned about the healing fractures to the right tibia and fibula and my remarks were made to that effect: 'This is strongly suspicious of child abuse'."

Her post-mortem examination also found bruising to the back of Poppi's throat and injuries to her anus and rectum area.

Earlier, the inquest, which started last week, heard that, in the early hours of December 12, 2012. Poppi's mother was asleep downstairs when she heard a scream which was followed by Mr Worthington coming down to fetch a clean nappy.

Shortly afterwards, Mr Worthington rushed back downstairs holding his lifeless daughter and shouting for his ex-partner to call an ambulance.

This second inquest into Poppi's death was ordered after a controversial first hearing - held by a different coroner - lasted just seven minutes.

Later, a family court judge said Poppi's "significant bleeding" could only be explained sensibly as the result of penetrative trauma.

The hearing continues.

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