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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Amy Clare & Amy-Clare Martin

Archie Battersbee died in prank gone wrong as tragic WhatsApp messages revealed

Tragic schoolboy Archie Battersbee died “inadvertently during a prank or experiment that went wrong”, a coroner has concluded.

Recording his death as an accident, senior coroner Lincoln Brookes said that although there was evidence of Archie experiencing low mood in the last 12 months of his life, there was no sign he intended to harm himself on the day he was injured.

Archie was found unconscious with a ligature around his neck at his home in Southend, Essex, on April 7 last year.

He died four months later in hospital after his parents lost a legal battle with medics over the withdrawal of his life support.

Although his family initially feared he could have taken part in a social media ‘blackout challenge’, the inquest heard police found no evidence to support this.


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Archie with his mother Hollie Dance (PA)
Archie during his hospital treatment as his family battled in the courts against turning his life support off (PA)

Officers discovered Archie was in Whatsapp groups called “Help” and “I’m depressed”, the court heard.

A forensic analysis of the 12-year-old’s mobile phone also uncovered a number of messages dating back to 2021 in which he refers to experiencing low mood.

In a Whatsapp exchange with his mum Hollie Dance last year, he told her: “Do you know how sometimes I think about self harm. I bet you didn’t. That’s how harsh my depression is.

“Sometimes I want to end it and I think about how many people I would let down.”

He later added “I just want to let go” and “just give up everything”.

Archie told friends he rated his physical appearance (PA)

In a Whatsapp group chat in February, he told friends he rated his physical appearance as one out of ten.

He added: “That’s why I’m so depressed all the time but I have tried and thought about killing myself.”

However DS Tiffany Gore, who analysed the phone, noted that there was no evidence of a suicide note and he had been looking ahead and browsing online for a new coat on the day on the day he was injured.

“There wasn’t evidence he was in a low mood on that day,” she told the court.

Her colleague DI Sarah Weeks, who concluded the death was non-suspicious, added that “it may not be possible to establish what motivated Archie”.

The Order of Service before the funeral of 12-year-old Archie Battersbee at St Mary's Church, Prittlewell, Southend-on-Sea, Essex (PA)
Archie Battersbee with his mother Hollie Dance (PA)

“On the day of the incident Archie was looking forward,” she said.

“He was looking forward to his first MMA fight and had chosen the music for his entrance. "He was looking to buy a coat.”

In a statement read to the court by the coroner, Archie's older half brother Thomas Summers described Archie as a "joker" and said he was looking forward to his first MMA fight in a few weeks.

"Archie had never said anything to me that caused me concern for his emotional well-being,” he said.

“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.”

People release purple balloons during a vigil at Priory Park in Southend-on-Sea, in memory of Archie Battersbee (PA)

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

Summarising his findings, the coroner said that although there was evidence of previous periods of low mood, Archie was presenting like the “happy go lucky cheeky chappy” his family described on the days preceding the incident.

He said the incident with a ligature may well have been a “case of curiosity” after he was seen playing a 'lasso' game a day earlier.

Archie’s cause of death was recorded as 1A catastrophic hypoxic ischemic brain injury, secondary to strangulation.

Speaking outside the coroner’s court in Chelmsford, Essex, his tearful mum said she thinks the coroner reached the “right outcome”.

“It has given us some of the answers, not all,” she said. “I just think that it’s time to allow us as a family to grieve.”

Although the coroner did not conclude Archie’s death was related to a 'blackout challenge', she was glad that she had raised awareness of the dangers for other parents.

The Samaritans is available 24/7 if you need to talk. You can contact them for free by calling 116 123, email or head to the website to find your nearest branch. You matter.

READ MORE:    Archie Battersbee's mum reveals moment she screamed after finding unconscious son
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