Archie Battersbee received 'abortion' voice note days before he suffered fatal injury at home

Archie Battersbee
Credit: Family photo
Archie Battersbee's phone showed no photos or videos of an online challenge, the court heard. Credit: Family photo

Archie Battersbee received a voice note four days before he suffered a fatal injury telling him that his mother had wanted him to be an abortion, an inquest heard.

The youngster from Southend died on 6 August, four months after he suffered a brain injury at home, and following a lengthy legal battle by his family to keep his life support on.

A detective who had examined the 12-year-old's mobile phone told the inquest that no images or videos of Archie taking part in an online challenge or with items around his head or neck were found on the device.

Members of his family told the hearing in Chelmsford that they saw no signs of low mood and did not believe he would try to harm himself.

The 12-year-old’s life support was withdrawn in August after his parents, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee, failed in bids to overturn a High Court ruling that doctors could lawfully do so.

Judges were told Ms Dance found Archie unconscious with a ligature over his head at home in Southend, Essex, on April 7 last year. His mother believes he may have been taking part in a blackout challenge.

'Abortion voice note'

Det Sgt Tiffany Gore told the inquest that a voice note dated April 3 was found on Archie’s phone when officers looked at it.

The officer said that the audio, in a young male voice, said: “Oi Archie, do you know why you’re angry?

“Because your mum wanted you to be an abortion.”

She said that a second audio note on the same date said: “You and your mum are the ones sat there all night using.”

The officer said there was also a “heated exchange” on February 15 2022 with a “number of voice notes” in a second young male voice.

Archie Battersbee's brain injury was described as "not survivable" by the hospital's medical director. Credit: Family photo

Essex’s senior coroner Lincoln Brookes said: “One could characterise it as a heated exchange of bravado where each are threatening and saying they know someone who could harm (the other).”

Ms Gore said police recovered 695 images and 282 videos from Archie’s phone - none showing him with anything around his head or neck, or participating in any challenges.

She said that among the videos were some of the martial arts fan “punching on the bob”, adding that they showed “a happy little boy enjoying his hobbies”.

The officer said that Archie had TikTok on his phone and she “can’t say with absolute certainty that Archie didn’t see an online challenge” or something containing “suicidal thoughts”.

She said that Archie had not videoed or photographed himself taking part in challenges, and that he had not searched the internet for an online blackout challenge.

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

'Never for one second believed' possibility of self-harm

Archie’s older half brother Thomas Summers described Archie as a “joker”, adding “he was very funny”, but he did "not believe Archie would have intentionally harmed himself".

Archie’s older half sister Lauren Summers said she could not recall “any signs or indications of Archie being in a low mood or displaying unusual behaviour”.

She described an occasion in the days before the incident when Archie was playing, trying to pull a door closed with a cord attached to the top of his head.

Matthew Badcock, the headmaster at Archie’s former primary school, said: “Although Archie was challenging he was lovely with it and rarely disrespectful.”

He described times when Archie “would go to the top of the stairwell and was hanging over the top and staff had to pull him back”.

“Archie had such extreme upper body strength I never felt he would fall,” he said.

Mr Badcock said that Archie was a “complex child” but he “never felt Archie was in danger of harm”, adding: “There’s no doubt Hollie loved Archie immensely and he was her little prince.”

He said that when he heard of the incident he “never for one second believed” Archie was trying to harm himself.

“My gut reaction was he was doing something athletic or mucking about and it had gone wrong,” said Mr Badcock.

The inquest heard Archie had been suspended from secondary school on three separate occasions, with the most recent being a two-day suspension on 17 March for a physical assault against a pupil.

Brain injury 'not survivable'

Dr Malik Ramadhan, who is medical director of the Royal London hospital and was not one of Archie’s treating clinicians, was asked to give an overview of Archie’s time at the hospital.

He said that when Archie arrived from Southend Hospital there were “signs of neurological damage”.

“An initial electrical test of his brain showed there was no activity,” he said.

“It was repeated with music being played and his mother with him to see if there was any response and there was no response to any outside stimulation.”

He said that the hospital formed the view that it was “not a survivable injury”.

“Archie was on the brink of death when he was in Southend and remained on the brink of death for the next four months and was kept alive by completely artificial means,” Dr Ramadhan said.

The inquest continues.

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