Archie Battersbee's mum believes his death was an accident, inquest hears

Archie Battersbee’s mum has recalled the devastating moment she found her son unresponsive on the first day of an inquest into his death.

Hollie Dance said she ‘cried hysterically’ and told the 12-year-old ‘please don’t leave mummy’.

The Chelmsford court was told Ms Dance believes her son died in an ‘accident’, having accidentally fallen from the banister at their home, causing a neck injury.

Archie’s life support was withdrawn amid huge public interest on August 6 2022, despite his parents’ pleas to continue it and further legal battle.

Judges were told Ms Dance found her son unconscious with a ligature over his head at their home in Southend, Essex, on April 7 last year.

‘I was crying hysterically, I was saying “please don’t leave mummy, I love you little man”, she said. ‘I repeated that over and over, I just didn’t want him to leave me.’

The coroner later 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.’

The court also heard from Joseph Norton, who performed CPR on Archie before ambulance crews arrived.

‘I heard a scream, a startling type of scream that alarmed me’, Mr Norton, whose mother lives next to Ms Dance, said.

‘I stopped and stood still to listen. I knew it was a serious scream, I thought someone could have been stabbed nearby.’

He added that Archie looked ‘pale’ and his lips were turning bluer as he tried to save him.

A paramedic who was called to the scene following reports the child was in cardiac arrest said there was ‘no abnormal marks to his neck and nothing obvious to show massive trauma’.

‘He was pale in colour and I started basic life support and chest compressions’, she added. ‘There were no signs of head injury.’

Essex’s senior coroner Lincoln Brookes spoke of concerns raised by Ms Dance about how her son was carried into the ambulance, and that he had not been given a neck brace.

Ms Dance had remarked: ‘Carried out by his ankles, it was quite upsetting, like cattle, not my little boy.’

The paramedic said she did not think a neck brace was ‘applicable’, adding: ‘When we moved him from the property we ensured everyone was still supporting him.’

Speaking about her son, Ms Dance said he was the ‘apple of my eye’, ‘well-loved’ and ‘protected’.

He had been impacted the separation of herself and his father and had faced bullying at school so was taken out of mainstream education.

The boy loved gymnastics and mixed martial arts (MMA) and was looking forward to his first fight which was meant to be 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, she told the hearing.

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

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

She continued: ‘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.’

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’.

At the outset of the hearing, Mr Brookes offered his ‘deep condolences’.

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

The inquest continues.

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