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Daily Record
Sam Russell & Ryan Merrifield & Adam May & Hannah Mackenzie Wood

Archie Battersbee coroner finds 'no evidence' that he tried 'blackout challenge'

A coroner stated he seen no evidence that Archie Battersbee was taking part in a viral blackout challenge before he was found unconscious. An inquest into the 12-year-old's tragic death also heard that police have since found messages on the schoolboy's phone suggesting 'very low mood'.

Archie's life-support was removed on August 6 after his parents Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee failed in their bid to overturn a High Court ruling that doctors could lawfully stop his treatment. Medics at at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, deemed Archie brain-stem dead and said continuing life-support was not in his best interests, the Mirror reports.

Ms Dance thinks the youngster may have been trying a TikTok challenge before he was found unresponsive in his room on April 7 this year. However, senior coroner for Essex Lincoln Brookes, chairing a pre-inquest review hearing in Chelmsford on Tuesday, said there was "no evidence at this stage to substantiate the concern".

An Essex police officer also told the hearing that, after downloading data from Archie's phone, messages were found reflecting what Mr Brookes described as "very low mood". Ms Dance attended the court in person while Mr Battersbee listened in to the proceedings remotely.

At the beginning of the hearing, Mr Brookes addressed the parents directly: "May I offer my deepest condolences to the both of you and to the many members of Archie's family who can't be here today."

Hollie Dance, the mother of tragic Archie Battersbee, had warned social media companies to do more to prevent dangerous challenges before Leon Brown's death (PA)

Reading from a colleagues report, Detective Inspector Sarah Weeks of Essex Police said Archie's mother had been "concerned there was an online challenge going round and other young people could be at risk".

Ms Dance gave police consent to download information from her son's phone, which has been taken as evidence on April 7, with police taking some data from the device on June 13. Ms Weeks said: "There are no photographs or videos on the download that suggest Archie was taking part in any online challenge."

She continued: "There's no evidence of Archie filming any videos on the day of the incident."

Archie died on August 6 after his life support machine was turned off. (PA)

She said that Archie "regularly" accessed YouTube, with most of his search terms relating to "MMA fighters, boxing or music videos".

"Most of his internet searches are in relation to his interests," she said, including one for "how much do MMA fighters get paid".

She added that the youngster has the TikTok app downloaded to his phone and was "using and accessing TikTok" on April 7, however there was "no evidence" to suggest he was taking part in a social media challenge. Ms Weeks said Archie's phone will now be submitted for a "full forensic download".

Hollie Dance pictured with her son Archie. (PA)

Discussing further information found on the device, Ms Weeks said: "There are a series of messages which reflect Archie's mood. This has only been received this morning so we will look to prepare a full report."

The coroner, Mr Brookes, said: "It's low mood we're looking at here, very low mood."

He added: "There's no evidence at this stage to substantiate the concern, the fear of Ms Dance, about the choking challenge or the blackout challenge, whether on TikTok or frankly on any other platform or provider."

Archie Battersbee's coffin is carried into the church. (PA)

He said the full inquest will cover Archie's medical cause of death and his "state of mind and his intentions on April 7 2022".

Tuesday's hearing was also told that Ms Dance had concerns about Archie first being taken Southend Hospital instead of straight to the Royal London Hospital. However, the coroner said her lawyer "makes it clear this is a mother's fears rather than anything that has an evidential basis behind it".

A full inquest, due to last one day, has been set for February 7 2023.


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