C4 News reporting on the disturbing case of Poppi, whose life was tragically cut short at only 13 months, and the crass incompetence and cover-up that followed. An appalling comment on our society, Cumbria police, and Cumbria council.
(I can’t explain the reason for the two interruptions during Tim Loughton’s interview. Maybe it was a technical problem, or maybe the C4 legal team took issue with something that Tim Loughton said in the live broadcast).
Poppi collapsed with serious injuries at her home in Barrow, Cumbria, in December 2012 and was taken to hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Cumbria Police conducted no “real” investigation for nine months, Mr Justice Jackson found, as senior detectives thought a pathologist “may have jumped to conclusions” in her belief the child had been a victim of abuse.
The toddler was buried in February 2013, precluding a further post-mortem examination, after her body was released by the local coroner.
There is now said to be an “absence of evidence” to find out how Poppi died, or definitively prove if or how she was injured.
There are some important legal distinctions involved in this tragic case.
Mr Justice Peter Jackson made his finding that Paul Worthington assaulted his daughter on the civil standard of proof. That standard is “the balance of probabilities”, in other words that it is more likely than not Paul Worthington carried out the assault. A finding in a civil court to this standard falls far short of a finding of guilt in a criminal case and should never be confused with it.
The Crown Prosecution will charge a suspect with a crime and bring a case to court if there is a “realistic prospect” of a criminal conviction. That is similar to a “balance of probabilities” test in that it also means the CPS regard the evidence as making it “more likely than not” there will be a conviction.
So, based on Mr Justice Jackson’s finding, why should a criminal case not be brought? There is further important and subtle distinction. The CPS must consider whether there is a realistic prospect of a jury convicting on the higher criminal standard of proof, i.e. beyond a reasonable doubt or satisfied so that they are sure.
Applying that test to the evidence, the CPS decided there was not a realistic prospect of a conviction. Following the Family Court proceedings there will be a second inquest into Poppi’s death. If new evidence comes to light, the CPS will reconsider its decision.