Archie Battersbee's mum tells his inquest she thinks his death was an accident

Archie Battersbee
Credit: Family photo
Credit: Family photo

The mother of Archie Battersbee has told an inquest she believes her son died after accidentally falling from the banister at their home, causing a neck injury.

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

His death followed a lengthy 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.

A two-day inquest at Essex Coroner's Court heard how a tearful Hollie Dance, Archie's mother, found her son unresponsive by their staircase before running outside and screaming for help.

She said: "I was crying hysterically, I was saying 'please don't leave mummy, I love you little man'.

"I repeated that over and over, I just didn't want him to leave me."

Hollie Dance arriving for the inquest on Tuesday. Credit: PA

Asked by Essex's senior coroner Lincoln Brookes how she thought her son had died, Ms Dance replied: "I think he climbed on the banister and probably fell, causing serious injury to his neck, resulting in unconsciousness."

She said her belief is that Archie's death was an "accident".

Ms Dance also set out that Archie was the "apple of my eye", "well-loved" and "protected".

She said Archie was bullied at school and was taken out of mainstream education.

Archie Battersbee's funeral was held in his home town of Southend. Credit: PA

Archie was a lover of gymnastics and mixed martial arts (MMA) with his first fight, which he was "looking forward to", scheduled for weeks after his death, the inquest heard.

Ms Dance added that Archie "thought he was the next Spider-Man" and would often climb on things.

Family members said "he wasn't down, just a bit bored" in the weeks before he died, Ms Dance told the hearing.

The coroner asked Ms Dance if she was aware Archie had been expressing thoughts of self-harm and suicide, to which she replied: "No".

Mr Brookes went on: "The police found he had shared some thoughts with others online or in a WhatsApp group. How were you when you read that?"

Ms Dance said: "Heartbroken, very surprised... if there were any marks on his body I would have seen them."

Doctors treating Archie at the Royal London Hospital thought he was brain-stem dead and said continued life-support treatment was not in his best interests.

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

But on Tuesday, she told the inquest: "I still don't know if Archie was trying the blackout challenge on 7 April or before; I still don't know what he was watching on TikTok."

She added: "He hated bullying and loud shouting. I can see that he might possibly be influenced, even though he knew right from wrong, if that's what peers and social media were telling him to do so. I fear that's what was prompted."

Archie's mother Hollie Dance releases a balloon at a vigil held following his death in August 2022. Credit: PA

Mr 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".

The inquest continues.

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