A coroner’s ruling has concluded that Archie Battersbee accidentally passed away as a result of a “prank or experiment” gone wrong, with no deliberate intention to harm himself.
Lincoln Brookes, Essex’s senior coroner, declared Archie’s death as a ‘catastrophic ischemic brain injury’ caused by an ill-fated “prank” meant to surprise his family “went wrong”.
After Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee desperately sought to reverse the High Court’s decision granting permission for physicians to withdraw life support from their 12-year-old son, this ruling was finally enforced on August 6th, 2022.
On April 7th of last year, the judge was informed that Miss Dance had discovered Archie unconscious at his residence in Southend, Essex.
He said Archie ‘hadn’t intended to harm himself but had done so inadvertently during a prank or experiment that went wrong’ after he ‘put his head in a noose or put a cord round his neck’.
Mr. Brookes referred to Archie as a “complex child” explaining that the prank was done “without necessarily a good reason”, not based on any concrete rationale – something 12-year-old boys don’t have “reasons”.
He continued: “I think it may just be a case of curiosity – what does it feel like?”
Mr. Brookes indicated that “something very similar happened the night before” when Archie’s sister had observed him attempting to yank a door shut using a cord around his neck.
He continued: “This was an accident that went wrong, either a prank to shock his mum as 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.”
“It probably went wrong very quickly and very badly.”
While the coroner had speculated that Archie might have participated in an online challenge, he admitted to not having seen any proof of it.
He definitively excluded suicide as a cause, further stating: “It seems to me that while there were periods of low mood and very low mood during the previous 12 months, in the days preceding his death I haven’t received any evidence of that.
“He was full of energy, he was very physical, he was at times very bored.
“He liked to shock those around him, perhaps even more so those he cared about.
“He liked to trick, he liked sometimes to carry out acts, or some might describe them as stunts, that would alarm people.”
Emphasizing the gravity of his situation, Archie had disclosed to classmates and his mother via Whatsapp that he was feeling “very low” and “questioning whether it was all worth it”.
Archie’s death was the result of a catastrophic hypoxic ischemic brain injury caused by strangulation.
Detective Sergeant Tiffany Gore reported that Archie had relayed messages of depression and self-harm on the Whatsapp platform.
He wrote in one message: “That’s why I’m so depressed all the time and I don’t cut my wrists but I have tried and thought about killing myself.”
Detective Inspector Sarah Weeks stated: “On the day of the incident Archie was looking forward to his first MMA fight and had chosen the music for his entrance.
“It may not be possible to establish what motivated Archie to place the cord round his neck.”
During her testimony, Ms. Gore informed the hearing that police discovered an audio message dated April 3 on Archie’s phone.
The officer reported that a male voice, presumably belonging to someone young, was heard in the audio saying: “Oi Archie, do you know why you’re angry? ‘Because your mum wanted you to be an abortion.”
According to Miss Gore, law enforcement extracted 695 pictures and 282 videos from Archie’s mobile device.
She remarked that none of these displays included any sort of headwear or necklace on Archie, nor him engaging in tasks.
Lauren Summers, Archie’s elder half-sister, attested that the day prior to the disturbing event, he was amusingly attempting to tug a door shut with rope affixed atop his scalp.