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Monday, 27 November 2017

Poppi Worthington inquest hears mother's frantic 999 call

Written by Kim Pilling and Pat Hurst

The mother of Poppi Worthington frantically urged her dying daughter: "Come on baby, come on Poppi ... keep going" as she spoke to a 999 call handler.

The harrowing emergency call was played at the second inquest into the sudden death of the 13-month-old toddler - who collapsed at her home in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, on December 12, 2012.

Poppi's mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was heard desperately listening to the instructions of the operator and relaying them to the youngster's father, Paul Worthington, 49, who attempted mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and chest compressions.

She made the call at just before 6am after Mr Worthington had carried lifeless Poppi downstairs, the hearing at County Hall, Kendal (pictured), was told.

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.

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.

The second inquest was ordered after the controversial first hearing - held by a different coroner - 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 now retired coroner Ian Smith decided he was satisfied to rely on the findings of a private family court judgment and declared her death unexplained.

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 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.

Mr Worthington, who is to give evidence to the inquest later this week, has never been charged with a criminal offence and denies responsibility.

The mother told the court she had an "up and down" relationship with Mr Worthington, who she had met in about 2009.

Poppi was born at almost full term, weighed five-and-a-half pounds and was generally a healthy baby who had just started walking, she told the court.

Asked about her 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 fought back tears as she recalled the last time she checked on Poppi, who was fast asleep, snoring, with her pink elephant pillow.

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.

Key events surrounding the death of Poppi Worthington

Here are the key events surrounding the death of Poppi Worthington.

  • 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.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2017, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Owen Humphreys / PA Wire.