Archie Battersbee died as a result of a prank or an experiment gone wrong, coroner’s rules

Archie Battersbee died as a result of an accident during a “prank or experiment gone wrong,” a coroner has ruled.

The 12-year-old was taken off life support last August, months after he was found unconscious at home with a ligature around his neck south end, Essex, on April 7th. His family believes he participated in a dangerous online challenge.

His parents, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee, failed in their attempts to overturn a High Court ruling that allowed doctors to lawfully stop his medical care.

(PA Media)

In an inquest into his death in Chelmsford, Essex, chief coroner Lincoln Brookes described the schoolboy as a “complex” child.

Noting an accidental death, he said that Archie “did not intend to harm himself but accidentally did so during a prank or experiment gone wrong.”

Mr Brookes said he was pleased that Archie “put his head in a noose or put a cord around his neck”.

“I think he did it without necessarily a good reason: 12-year-old boys don’t always have reasons,” Mr Brookes said.

“I think maybe it’s just a case of curiosity — how does it feel?”

He said that “something very similar happened the night before” when Archie’s sister saw him put a string around his head to try to close a door.

“This was an accident gone wrong, either a prank to shock his mum when she came out of the bedroom to find him doing something shocking or reckless, or just experimenting to see what it was like to do this,” said Mr. Brookes.

“It probably went very wrong very quickly and very badly.”

He said it’s “possible” that Archie took part in an online challenge, but he hasn’t seen any evidence of it.

Archie Battersbee’s mother and father, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee, outside the Royal Courts of Justice

(Carl Court/Getty Images)

He said he had considered suicide but ruled it out, adding: “It seems to me that while there have been periods of low and very low mood over the last 12 months, in the days leading up to his death I have none of it get proof of it.”

“He was full of energy, he was very physical, he was very bored at times,” Mr Brookes said.

“He loved shocking those around him, maybe even more those he cared about.

“He liked to do tricks, he liked to perform acts sometimes, or some would call them stunts, that would alarm people.”

He said Archie had been in Whatsapp groups with peers “and told his mum a couple of times that he was very down and wondering if it was all worth it”.

He listed Archie’s medical cause of death as catastrophic hypoxic ischemic brain injury resulting from strangulation.

Dozens of mourners attended his funeral


A tearful Ms Dance recounted her son not responding at her stairs before running outside screaming for help.

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

“I kept repeating that, I just didn’t want him to leave me.”

Asked by Mr Brookes how she thinks her son died, Ms Dance replied: “I think he climbed onto the railing and probably fell, resulting in serious injuries to his neck and loss of consciousness.”

She said she believes her son’s death was an accident.

Detective Sergeant Tiffany Gore said Archie wrote in Whatsapp messages about depression and thoughts of self-harm.

In one, the boy wrote, “That’s why I’m so depressed all the time and don’t cut my wrists but I’ve tried and thought about killing myself.”

He loved shocking those around him, maybe even more those he cared about

Lincoln Brookes, chief Essex coroner

Detective Inspector Sarah Weeks said: “On the day of the incident, Archie was looking forward to his first MMA fight and had chosen the music for his performance.” She said he had been playing with his pet rabbit and wanted to buy a coat.

Ms Weeks said Archie was found in an “unusual position on the stairs”. “It may not be possible to determine what prompted Archie to put the cord around his neck,” she said.

Ms Gore previously told the hearing that officers found a voice memo on Archie’s phone from four days before his death.

In the tone, a young man’s voice said, “Oi Archie, do you know why you’re angry? Because your mother wanted you to have an abortion.”

Ms Gore said police recovered 695 pictures and 282 videos from Archie’s phone. She said no one showed Archie with anything on their head or neck, or participated in any challenges.

Archie’s older half-sister Lauren Summers said that the day before the incident, Archie was playing and trying to close a door with a string tied to his head.

Ms Dance said Archie was the “apple of my eye”, “well loved” and “protected”.

Doctors treating Archie at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, believed he was brain dead and said continued life support was not in his best interests – a decision his parents had repeatedly challenged in court.


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