Archie Battersbee died in prank gone wrong

Archie Battersbee died accidentally following a “prank or experiment” that went wrong, a coroner concluded.

Archie, 12, was found unconscious at the family home in Southend-on-Sea on 7 April.

He died four months later in August, following his parents’ legal battle with the NHS hospital treating him in London.

The coroner said there was no evidence he was doing an online challenge at the time, as his mother first believed.

Hollie Dance had asked Essex Police to look at her son Archie’s phone for any evidence he may have been taking part in a challenge.

No images or videos of Archie taking part in online challenges were found, a detective told the inquest.

Senior Coroner for Essex, Lincoln Brookes, said he could not “rule out the possibility” that was what happened and nor could police, but he said a decision had to be made based on the evidence.

His medical cause of death was recorded as an unsurvivable catastrophic hypoxic ischemic brain injury.


Mr Brookes said Archie “hadn’t intended to harm himself but had done so inadvertently during a prank or experiment that went wrong”.

He added that it “probably went wrong very quickly and very badly”.

He said he had considered a conclusion of suicide, but ruled this out.

While Archie had expressed periods of low mood in the preceding 12 months there was no evidence of it at the time of his death, the coroner said.

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

“He liked to trick, he liked sometimes to carry out acts, or some might describe them as stunts, that would alarm people,” he said.

Speaking outside court Ms Dance said she felt the outcome “was correct”.

She said the family now wanted time “to grieve” but that she would continue to tackle online bullying.

Ms Dance had said previously that she and members of her family had been subjected to abusive messages from “online trolls”.

“The whole idea of raising awareness from day one, even when we weren’t 100% sure what Archie had done, was to raise awareness to other parents to prevent something happening again,” she said.

“I think we have done that, despite the fact we’ve been trolled so heavily, it’s been worth it.

“I do think we have saved children’s lives.”

She said she wanted her son to be remembered as a “fun-loving, very energetic” child.

The inquest in Chelmsford heard that Archie received a voice note days before he was found unconscious which told him his mother had wanted to have an abortion.

Det Sgt Tiffany Gore told the inquest officers found a voice note from 3 April in which 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.”

Another “heated exchange” was found dated 15 February 2022 with “a number of voice notes” in a second young male voice, she said.

Mr Brookes said it could be characterised as a “heated exchange of bravado” where threats were exchanged.

Videos and images on Archie’s phone showed the youngster taking part in martial arts and “showed a happy little boy enjoying his hobbies”, the officer said.

The inquest heard that although Archie had TikTok on his phone, the police had not been able to say for certain he had never seen any online challenges or something containing suicidal thoughts.

However, they did establish there had been no internet searches related to online challenges.

Archie’s siblings said they could not imagine he would ever intentionally harm himself

Thomas Summers, Archie’s older brother, described him as a “joker”.

He said he had spoken to him hours before he was found unconscious and Archie had told him he was looking to buy a new coat.

“I do not believe Archie would have intentionally harmed himself in any way when just a few hours before he was looking to buy a coat,” said his brother.

He added that Archie was concentrating on his first MMA fight, which was a few weeks away.

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

Matthew Badcock, the head teacher 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”.

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.

Archie’s parents Paul Battersbee and Hollie Dance spent months in a legal battle with the hospital trust treating him

Archie was on life support at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, and his parents, Paul Battersbee and Hollie Dance, opposed plans to end his life support treatment, but lost a legal battle in the courts.

Dr Malik Ramadhan, the medical director of the hospital, but not one of Archie’s treating clinicians, was asked to give an overview of Archie’s time there.

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”.