Some important items were lost or never recovered, including Poppi’s last nappy and her pyjama bottoms, the inquest heard

An expert witness has cast doubt on suggestions toddler Poppi Worthington was sexually abused in the hours before her death.

Dr Nat Carey, a consultant forensic pathologist, told the inquest there was no clear-cut evidence of trauma implying third-party involvement.

His evidence contradicted the findings of Dr Alison Armour, who was called as a witness earlier in the week.

Poppi died suddenly at a house in Barrow on 12 December 2012.

No-one has been prosecuted.

Although he did not carry out his own post-mortem examination, Dr Carey said he had formed his opinion after studying photographs and slides.

‘Natural’ marks

He told the hearing he discounted Dr Armour’s assertion that marks found near Poppi’s fallopian tube were bruising resulting from sexual penetration.

Dr Carey said they were “of no consequence” and would have occurred naturally in the five days between the youngster’s death and her examination by Dr Armour.

Although he said he could not “absolutely exclude” penetration, Dr Cary said he would have “expected very obvious injury and there wasn’t anything of the sort”.

Earlier in the day, the inquest in Kendal was told vital evidence from the final hours of the 13-month-old’s life was lost or never found by police.

Catherine Thundercloud, a retired police officer with Cumbria Police, said it would have been “imperative” to get statements from people in the house and Poppi’s aunt, Tracy Worthington, as quickly as possible.

She also said whatever was used at the hospital should have been retained, including gloves worn by those attempting to resuscitate the youngster.

The sheet from the double bed where Poppi was placed at the time of her collapse was not recovered, the inquest heard

The sheet and equipment from the ambulance and the resuscitation room were not retained, the inquest has heard.

“It is imperative you ensure whatever is in that ambulance is taken straight away, it is not disposed of,” Ms Thundercloud said.

Also lost was a sheet used to swaddle Poppi after her death.

In 2016, High Court family judge Mr Justice Peter Jackson ruled Poppi was probably sexually assaulted by her father Paul Worthington shortly before she died.

Mr Worthington has denied any wrongdoing.

Ms Thundercloud was asked to review the evidence as part of an Independent Police Commission Complaint (IPCC) investigation.

Paul Worthington has always denied harming his daughter

Alison Hewitt, counsel for the coroner, asked her what officers should have known before they searched the house.

Ms Thundercloud said they should have had first accounts from the parents and details from hospital staff about what had happened.

The inquest has heard the first police search began before first accounts had been gathered from Mr Worthington.

Ms Thundercloud said: “Unless you’ve read what he said you can’t do a proper strategy.”

She said those failures may have resulted in “vital evidence being lost”.

The hearing continues.

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