Friday, 3 March 2017

Poppi Worthington denied justice after litany of police failings, IPCC report finds

An article by Hayley Dixon in The Telegraph today informs us Poppi Worthington has been denied
justice because of a litany of police failings including a senior officer not wanting to spend
£20,000 on forensics and others taking the weekend off, a damning report has found.

Despite the 13-month-old's father, Paul Worthington, being a suspect "from day one" the
"unstructured and disorganised" investigation means that there was no resolution to the case,
the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) concluded.

The report lays bare a blame culture in which the two senior officers, Detective Superintendent
Mike Forrester and Detective Inspector Amanda Sadler, tried to pass responsibility for a series
of failings.

A 2014 fact-finding judgement concluding her father had probably sexually assaulted her yet
charges have never been brought as prosecutors say that there is not enough evidence.
Mr Worthington denies any wrong doing.

Jerry Graham, the Chief Constable of Cumbria Constabulary last night admitted that the watchdog's
report"makes for uncomfortable reading". But he insisted that changes had been made and officers
and staff have been "properly trained and equipped" to conduct similar complex investigations.

The circumstances surrounding the toddler's sudden death in  Barrow-in-Furness in December 2012
have long been shrouded in secrecy.

The IPCC concluded the report in March 2015 but it can only now be released as the Crown
Prosecution Service have re-examined the evidence and concluded they have no "realistic prospect"
of securing a conviction.

The watchdog lays blame for the lack of evidence on Cumbria police, who on the first day allowed
potentially crucial evidence to be thrown in the bin.

Despite officers having alleged "intelligence" on Mr Worthington and the doctor who treated
Poppi raising concerns that she had been sexually abused, it took senior officers seven months
to launch a criminal investigation, risking the loss of evidence, and eight to arrest him.

Mrs Sadler admitted she had suspected Mr Worthington from "day one", but said that she "didn’t
feel that I had enough experience myself to make any of those decisions on my own", whilst
Mr Forrester denied that he had failed to record it as a crime so that he did not have an
unsolved crime on his record.

In the first explanation of the delays to be made public, Mrs Sadler gave evidence explaining it was a "real shame" that nothing was done between
Poppi's death and the initial post mortem five days later as "because it was a weekend and we
were off”.

Her position was criticised by the IPCC as it suggested that "had Poppi died on a different day
then more actions may have been completed".

It was the first in a long line of delays, and Mr Forrester claimed that he could not do anything
until the full post mortem concluded in June 2013 that Poppi had been sexually assaulted after
doctors initially said she could have just been constipated.

He blamed staff cuts which meant that they could not spend time taking statements which might not
have been required, telling investigators that "an ideal world they would have obtained all the
statements, but this is not an ideal world".

The report states: "D/Supt Forrester agreed that there were actions that could have been done
quicker, he said he could have spent £20,000 sending everything off for forensic analysis, and
they probably could have interviewed everybody in that period; however he also said to do that
meant tying up resources when it was not known if there was any value in doing it."

Statements should be taken as soon as possible so that untainted accounts can be taken and
witnesses do not forget information, the IPCC said as they noted that "not only were there
suspicious circumstances, there was also a suspect on day one".

The IPCC also criticised his claim that e was investigating only the death and his role "wasn’t
to investigate whether Poppi had been sexually abused, either at the point of death or prior to

The comments were cited as proof that the officers were focused on establishing that Poppi died
of natural causes.

When questions were raised about the investigation Mr Forrester allegedly said he would use an
email ordering him to take control two weeks after the death as a "a get out of jail card"  to
prove he was not initially involved.

The IPCC concluded that there was "substantial evidence available to support the contention that
the reason this case has still not reached a resolution more than two years on from the death of
Poppi is because of the unstructured and disorganised approach taken by D/Supt Forrester and
DI Sadler."

IPCC Commissioner Carl Gumsley described the inquiry as "not fit for purpose".

For more information click here.

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