I trusted Poppi’s dad with my kids, sister says

The sister of Paul Worthington, who is said to have sexually assaulted his 13-month-old daughter Poppi before her death, has told a court she trusted him with her own children.

Tracy Worthington gave evidence at the second inquest into the death of the toddler who collapsed suddenly at her home in Barrow-in-Furness on 12 December 2012.

Mr Worthington has been in hiding since January 2016 when family court judge Mr Justice Peter Jackson, now Lord Justice Peter Jackson, made public his conclusion that he probably sexually assaulted his 13-month-old daughter before her collapse.

He said Poppi’s “significant bleeding” within 15 minutes of the 999 call made from the family home could only be sensibly explained as the result of penetrative trauma.

:: Mother of Poppi Worthington heard ‘scream’ before toddler’s death

Mr Worthington, who denies any wrongdoing, will give evidence on Wednesday.

His sister has told the hearing that she rushed round to the family home after she had received a phone call from Poppi’s mother.

She said: “She was very distressed and crying. I thought that she said Paul was not breathing and had gone in the ambulance.

“Then I understood that Poppi had gone in the ambulance with Paul and she was not breathing.”

She said the ambulance was just leaving as she arrived, and in the living room she saw Poppi’s mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, Poppi’s siblings and two police officers.

Tracy Worthington said she then stayed at the house as Poppi’s mother was taken to the hospital by relatives.

She said she noticed a nappy next to her as she sat on a settee and it had a “rancid smell”.

A general view of County Hall in Kendal, where the second inquest into the death of 13-month-old Poppi Worthington has opened

Image: County Hall in Kendal, where the second inquest is under way

“It was full of diarrhoea… really full.

“It was not open, open. It was starting to seep from the outside.”

She said she placed it in a carrier bag which she tied and asked the male officer: “Is it okay to put it in the bin because it stinks?”

Ms Worthington told the hearing: “He said it was okay. He was watching me all the time I was doing it.”

She added that a female officer also told her it was okay to dispose of the nappy as she went out of the front door to put it in a wheelie bin.

Mrs Worthington confirmed that in a previous statement about the incident she had spoken about her brother and had trusted him with her own children, who he looked after at times.

A nurse also told the inquest that she had become concerned when she noticed fresh blood on Poppi’s blanket.

The nurse, who has been asked to remain anonymous, said she decided to write a statement about the event because she found it to be a “very unusual situation”.

The nurse recalled telling a police officer that Poppi did not have a nappy on and they did not have it in their possession.

The nurse says she saw fresh blood on Poppi and “was worried and suspicious about there being fresh blood”.

In his fact-finding judgment, Lord Justice Peter Jackson criticised police for effectively not conducting any “real” investigation into Poppi’s death for nine months.

He said among basic omissions was that the scene at the family home was not secured after Poppi was taken to hospital, with the youngster’s last nappy – thought to be the one Ms Worthington disposed of – being lost.

The second inquest was ordered after the first hearing – held by a different coroner, Ian Smith – was shrouded in secrecy and lasted just seven minutes.

Poppi was listed as “a child aged 13 months” at the first inquest in 2014 as the coroner decided he was satisfied to rely on the findings of the then private family court fact-finding judgment, and declared her death unexplained.

The hearing continues on Wednesday and is expected to last up to four weeks, but will take a break for Christmas and the New Year.