Archie Battersbee’s mother believes his death was an accident, research shows

Archie Battersbee’s mother believes her son died after accidentally falling off the banister at their home and sustaining neck injuries, an inquest has learned.

The 12-year-old’s life support was withdrawn on August 6, 2022 after his parents, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee, failed to overturn a Supreme Court ruling allowing doctors to lawfully do so.

Judges were told that on April 7 last year Ms Dance found Archie unconscious with a ligature over his head at home in Southend, Essex.

On the first day of an inquest into his death in Chelmsford on Tuesday, a tearful Ms Dance said she found her son unconscious by their stairs before running outside and screaming for help.

She said: “I cried hysterically, I said ‘please don’t leave mommy, I love you little man’.

“I repeated that over and over. I just didn’t want him to leave me.”

Joseph Norton said in a written statement read in court that his mother lives next door to Ms Dance and was in the garden when he heard screaming.

He said: “I heard a scream, a surprising kind of scream that disturbed me.

“I stopped and stood still to listen. I knew it was a serious scream, I thought someone nearby could have been stabbed.”

Mr Norton, who resuscitated Archie before paramedics arrived, said the boy looked “pale” and his lips turned blue.

When asked by Essex senior coroner Lincoln Brookes how she thinks her son died, Ms Dance replied: “I think he climbed the banister and probably fell, causing serious injury to his neck, unconsciousness up to consequence.”

She said she believes Archie’s death was an “accident”.

Paramedics were called to the scene after reports that Archie was in cardiac arrest.

A paramedic told the court: “When I arrived there was a child lying on the floor on his back who had gone into cardiac arrest.

“There were no abnormal marks on his neck and nothing obvious to show massive trauma.

“He was pale in color and I started basic life support and chest compressions.

“There were no signs of head injuries.”

Mr Brookes spoke of Ms Dance’s concerns about how her son was being carried into the ambulance and that he had not been given a neck brace.

Ms. Dance had said, “Carried out by his ankles, it was pretty upset, like cattle, not my little boy.”

The paramedic responded that she didn’t think a neck brace was “applicable,” adding, “When we moved him off the premises, we made sure everyone was still supporting him.”

Ms. Dance also stated that Archie was the “apple of his eye”, “loved” and “protected”.

She said that Archie was affected by her and his father’s divorce, that he was bullied at school and taken out of mainstream education.

Archie was a gymnastics and mixed martial arts (MMA) enthusiast with his first fight, which he “looked forward to”, scheduled for weeks after his death, the inquest heard.

Ms. Dance added that Archie “thought he was the next Spider-Man” and often climbed on things.

Relatives said “he wasn’t down, he was just a little bored” in the weeks before he died, Ms Dance told the hearing.

The coroner asked Ms Dance if she knew Archie had expressed thoughts of self-harm and suicide, to which she replied “no”.

Mr Brookes continued: “Police found that he had shared some thoughts with others online or in a WhatsApp group. What was it like when you read that?”

Mrs. Dance said, “Heartbroken, very surprised…if there were marks on his body I would have seen them.”

Doctors who treated Archie at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, thought he was brainstem dead and said continuing life support treatment was not in his best interests.

Ms Dance has previously said he may have taken part in an online challenge and suffered brain damage.

On Tuesday, she told the inquest: “I still don’t know if Archie tried the blackout challenge on April 7 or earlier. I still don’t know what he was watching on TikTok.”

She added: “He hated bullying and loud yelling. I can see that he could potentially be influenced even though he knew right from wrong if that’s what peers and social media told him to do. I’m afraid that’s what was asked.

Mr Brookes said at a preliminary inquest last November that he had seen no evidence that Archie was taking part in an online blackout challenge but had been told police had found messages on the young person’s phone that contained a “very bad mood”.

At the start of the hearing, Mr Brookes offered his “deep condolences”.

He said the topics the inquest will address include Archie’s medical cause of death and his “state of mind and his intentions on April 7, 2022.”

The judicial investigation continues.

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