Inquest set to open into death of 12-year-old Archie Battersbee

Archie Battersbee
Credit: PA
Archie Battersbee died in hospital after weeks of legal battles. Credit: PA/Family photo

The inquest into how Archie Battersbee died is set to begin, six months on from the 12-year-old boy's death.

Archie, from Southend in Essex, died at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel in east London on 6 August 2022.

His death followed a lengthy four-month-long legal battle between his family and doctors, as doctors said he was "brain-stem dead", while his family argued his heart was still beating so care should have continued.

The inquest into his death is set to start on Tuesday in Chelmsford, scheduled to continue until at least Wednesday.

Archie was found unconscious by his mother Hollie Dance, at her home in Southend on 7 April 2022, with a ligature around his neck.

Ms Dance believed he was taking part in an online challenge gone wrong. He was taken to hospital with traumatic head injuries.

Essex’s senior coroner Lincoln Brookes said at a preliminary inquest hearing in November last year, he had seen no evidence that Archie was taking part in any online blackout challenge but had been told that police found messages on the youngster’s phone reflecting “very low mood”.

Archie Battersbee with his mother Hollie Dance Credit: Family photo

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

Ms Dance told The Guardian threatening WhatsApp messages targeting her son had been released as part of the disclosure process ahead of the inquest.

She said: “So to think that my little boy had been trolled prior to this and we had no idea whatsoever is absolutely heart-breaking.”

She believes they were not related to her son’s death as they largely stopped before the fatal incident, the newspaper reported.

Archie Battersbee’s father, Paul Battersbee, and mother, Hollie Dance, outside the Royal London Hospital, where the 12-year-old was treated Credit: PA

Weeks after Archie was found unconscious at home, doctors at Barts Health NHS Trust, responsible for Archie's care at the Royal London Hospital, thought it was "highly likely" that the 12-year-old was effectively dead.

They said it was in his best interests that life-support treatment should stop, so began High Court proceedings to test his brain stem, but Archie's parents raised concerns.

In May, a High Court judge ruled that a brain stem test would be in Archie's best interests and a nerve stimulation test gave no response.

The following month, a High Court judge ruled that Archie was dead and doctors could lawfully stop treating him.

However, Ms Dance and Archie's father Paul Battersbee appealed against the decision and it was decided that the evidence should be reconsidered.

Over the subsequent two months, an emotional legal battle ensued, as Archie's case was taken through the court system.

As more judges ruled Archie's care could be stopped, his family appealed the decisions to more senior courts, including the Court of Appeal, the European Court of Human Rights, and a failed appeal to the Supreme Court.

After Archie's family exhausted all options, in August the Court of Appeal said the boy's treatment would end.

A second legal battle was then fought over Archie’s family's wishes to allow the schoolboy to be moved to a hospice, which was rejected by the High Court.

Archie died in hospital on 6 August, with Ms Dance saying her "beautiful little boy" died at 12.15pm.

She has since called for meetings with the health secretary and met with her local MP in an attempt to reform how such cases are dealt with, and to prevent other families having to

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