‘Oh my God, come on Poppi’: Mother’s harrowing 999 call as she tried to save her 13-month-old baby girl who was ‘probably sexually assaulted’ by her ‘brilliant Dad’ is heard at the second inquest into her ‘sudden death’
- Poppi Worthington died in December 2012 after she collapsed at home
- First inquest into her death was shrouded in secrecy and lasted seven minutes
- Poppi’s father, Paul, has escaped prosecution over involvement in her death
- He has been in hiding since January 2016, when family court judge ruled in public that he probably sexually assaulted his daughter before her collapse
- Former supermarket worker will now give evidence at the second inquest
- Harrowing emergency call Poppi’s mother made to 999 call handler was played
An inquest into the death of a 13-month-old baby girl who was ‘probably sexually assaulted’ by her father heard a harrowing 999 call made by the child’s mother.
Poppi Worthington died suddenly on December 12 2012 after collapsing at her home in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.
In January 2016 it was revealed a family court judge had ruled in 2014 that Poppi’s father, 49-year-old Paul Worthington, had probably sexually assaulted her.
Mr Worthington, who denies any involvement in his daughter’s death, has escaped prosecution after police lost crucial evidence.
On the first day of the second inquest into Poppi’s death, the court was played a recording of a frantic 10-minute phone call between Poppi’s mother and a 999 call handler shortly before 6am on the day of the baby’s death.
Poppi Worthington died in December 2012 after she collapsed at home at Barrow-in-Furness
She told the operator: ‘Ambulance please. My baby’s not breathing, she gone blue.
‘Erm, she’s not been well, on and off, last few days. She’s not breathing. She’s not breathing. She’s blue.’
The call handler responds: ‘Can you just try to be calm?’ before giving instructions to Poppi’s mother to lay the child flat on her back, check that her airways are clear, tilt her head back and then begin CPR.
The mother tells her partner: ‘Oh my God. Two breaths, 30 pumps. Keep going! Keep going until the ambulance arrives.
‘Come on Poppi. Come on baby. Oh f****** hell. I think she just breathed! Oh! Oh come on. Oh my God come on Poppi.
‘Come on keep going. Come on. Come on baby. Come on ambulance please. Please come on.
‘What’s wrong with her, Paul? She’s not breathing.’
Paramedics are then heard arriving in the background at the end of the call which lasted up to 10 minutes. More than a hour later, Poppi was pronounced dead at Furness General Hospital.
The original inquest into Poppi’s death was heard in private, lasted just seven minutes and heard no evidence
Earlier at the inquest, Poppi’s mother was frequently visibly distressed as she gave evidence and asked not to be present when the 999 call was played in court.
Asked about Poppi’s personality, she said: ‘Very alive, bubbly. You knew she was there, there was no missing her.’
On the early evening of December 11, she said she placed Poppi in her cot in one of the home’s three bedrooms as later other siblings at the address went to sleep.
Mr Worthington followed upstairs, she said, but she eventually slept downstairs on the sofa as one of her other children awoke and she settled him in a pushchair.
She later awoke when she heard Poppi cry out and described it as ‘more of a scream’.
The mother then said she heard Mr Worthington get up so she went back to sleep before he came downstairs for a nappy.
She fell asleep again before Mr Worthington came downstairs with Poppi again to tell her their daughter was not breathing.
Leslie Thomas QC, representing Paul Worthington, asked Poppi’s mother about her statement describing Mr Worthington as a ‘brilliant dad’.
He said: ‘You did not think for one moment he was a man who harms kids, did you?’
She replied: ‘No.’
Gillian Irving QC, representing the mother, then questioned the witness about her statement.
Ms Irving said: ‘At that time were you aware there was an allegation that she (Poppi) had been sexually abused before death?’
The mother replied: ‘No.’
Speaking about Mr Worthington, she had told police: ‘I love Paul. He is my best friend. He has supported me. We are honest with each other when we argue.
‘Paul is a brilliant dad who cares for his kids, loves them and provides for them.
‘There is no way Paul could have harmed Poppi. The children are his world.
‘I could never have harmed her either. She was my beautiful daughter.
‘I love my family. My kids are my world.’
Poppi died from the injuries sustained shortly after her father, who had been watching pornography, took her into his bed at the family home in Barrow-in-Furness, in December 2012
During the second inquest Mr Worthington will face questions about his daughter’s death for the first time.
Mr Justice Peter Jackson, a High Court judge, ruled in January 2016 that Mr Worthington had probably sexually assaulted the 13-month-old girl in the hours 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.
He also listed 12 serious errors and omissions by police, social workers and medical staff.
These meant the most basic evidence that could have helped secure a prosecution was lost or never collected.
Police failed to collect key evidence including Mr Worthington’s laptop, Poppi’s last nappy, clothes and bedclothes, and bedding from the hospital where she was declared dead.
Paul Worthington will give evidence at the inquest into the death of his daughter Poppi
Forensic tests were not carried out, the family home was not secured, senior officers did not visit the home and the parents were not arrested and interviewed by police for eight months.
Cumbria Police and social services then tried to cover up their numerous failings.
The original inquest into Poppi’s death, in 2014, for ‘a child aged 13 months’ was heard in private, lasted just seven minutes and heard no evidence.
Coroner Ian Smith recorded an open verdict, which was later ruled unlawful.
The facts surrounding Poppi’s death only began to be made public after an 18-month legal fight by the Mail and other media groups.
Coroners can ask witnesses to attend informally or issue a summons under common law powers.
A person cannot refuse to be a witness because their evidence could lead them to be charged with a crime, but they can refuse to answer questions put to them on the grounds of self-incrimination.
The latest hearing comes almost five years after Poppi died from the injuries sustained shortly after her father, who had been watching pornography, took her into his bed at the family home in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, in December 2012.
A Home Office pathologist reported she had sustained internal injuries before she died consistent with sexual abuse but a formal cause of death has not been ascertained.
The second inquest will seek to establish the circumstances surrounding Poppi’s death.
Mr Worthington is among 39 names on a list of witnesses to appear in person at the hearing.
Earlier this year he asked for permission to give evidence via videolink after voicing fears for his own safety.
HM senior coroner for Cumbria, David Roberts, is expected to adjourn the proceedings over Christmas and New Year before he gives his formal conclusions on January 15
On Monday a more extensive examination of the circumstances surrounding the death of Poppi, after she collapsed at her home with serious injuries in December 2012, will take place at County Hall, Kendal, (pictured) and last up to four weeks
Flowers laid at Poppi’s grave. An Independent Police Complaints Commission report concluded that senior detectives probing Poppi’s death were ‘unstructured and disorganised’
Last year the Crown Prosecution Service confirmed there was ‘insufficient evidence’ to charge Mr Worthington with any offence over his daughter’s death
Other witnesses appearing include Poppi’s mother, her aunt Tracey Worthington, and paramedics who responded to the 999 call.
Fiona McGhie, a lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing the child’s mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said: ‘Poppi’s mother hopes that the inquest, which has been much delayed over the last two years, can shed some light on Poppi’s final hours.’
Police officers who attended Poppi’s home address in the hours after she died will also give evidence, as will former detective inspector Amanda Sadler, who was allowed to retire rather than face gross misconduct charges.
HM senior coroner for Cumbria, David Roberts, is expected to adjourn the proceedings over Christmas and New Year before he gives his formal conclusions on January 15.
FIVE YEARS SINCE POPPI’S DEATH AND STILL QUESTIONS REMAIN
:: December 12, 2012 – Poppi Worthington dies suddenly aged 13 months after she collapses at her home in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, and is rushed to hospital.
:: February 2013 – Poppi is buried after the coroner releases her body.
:: June 2013 – A full post-mortem report indicates the cause of death is unascertained.
:: August 2013 – Poppi’s parents are arrested and formally interviewed for the first time. Poppi’s father, Paul Worthington, is questioned on suspicion of sexually assaulting his daughter – an allegation he denies.
:: March 2014 – Fact-finding judgment on the circumstances of Poppi’s death is delivered in private as part of family court proceedings involving other children in the family. Its publication is delayed in case it prejudices any criminal trial.
:: October 2014 – HM Coroner for South Cumbria, Ian Smith, – now retired – holds an inquest at Barrow Town Hall and takes just seven minutes to declare her death as unexplained after stating he was satisfied to rely on the findings of the private fact-finding judgment.
The case is not listed in Poppi’s name but as ‘a child aged 13 months’.
:: January 2015 – HM Senior Coroner for Cumbria, David Roberts, confirms he will ask for a fresh inquest in a written reply to lawyers representing various media organisations who argued the October hearing was insufficient and therefore unlawful.
:: March 2015 – Cumbria Police announce no charges will be brought against anyone over Poppi’s death after they had previously passed a file to the Crown Prosecution Service for its consideration.
:: April 2015 – Paul Worthington is granted a review of the March 2014 medical evidence, which further delays publication of the original fact-finding judgment.
:: July 2015 – High Court judges order a fresh inquest into the youngster’s death after the first hearing was deemed ‘irregular’.
:: November 2015 – A hearing reviewing the medical evidence from the March 2014 court proceedings gets under way in Liverpool. Ahead of the hearing, Mr Justice Peter Jackson (now Lord Justice Peter Jackson) releases parts of his original fact-finding judgment which reveal that Cumbria Police did not conduct any ‘real’ investigation into Poppi’s death for nine months despite a senior pathologist raising concerns the girl’s injuries were caused by ‘a penetrative sexual assault’.
:: January 19 2016 – The judge announced his findings that – on the balance of probabilities – Mr Worthington had sexually assaulted Poppi shortly before her death.
:: January 21 2016 – Paul Worthington’s sister Tracy tells reporters that he has left the country after being ‘hounded’.
: June 2016 – A Serious Case Review finds that Poppi’s mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had a ‘difficult and traumatic childhood’ in a family ‘with intergenerational experiences of neglect and abuse’.
It also reveals that Paul Worthington is an ex-partner of a woman who was feared to have sexually exploited Poppi’s mother.
:: July 2016 – The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) says there is ‘insufficient evidence’ to charge Paul Worthington with any offence over his daughter’s death.
:: November 2016 – The CPS states that its decision not to charge was correct following an independent review of the evidence, prompted by a request under the victims’ right to review scheme.
:: March 3 2017 – The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) finally publishes its 2015 findings into the initial police probe over Poppi’s death.
It finds the approach of senior detectives was ‘unstructured and disorganised’ and that there were enough grounds to make an arrest on the day of Poppi’s death.
:: November 27, 2017 – The second inquest is set to get under way at County Hall, Kendal, with Paul Worthington among witnesses listed to give evidence. The hearing is scheduled for up to four weeks with coroner Mr Roberts set to give his formal conclusions on January 15 next year.