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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Sam Russell

Archie Battersbee ‘was sent voice note about abortion’ days before injury

PA Media

A voice note on a 12 year-old’s mobile phone, four days before he was found unconscious, told the boy his mother ‘wanted him to be an abortion’, an inquest heard.

Archie Battersbee’s life support was withdrawn last August after his parents, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee, failed in bids to overturn a High Court ruling that doctors could lawfully do so.

Judges were told Ms Dance found Archie unconscious at home in Southend, Essex, on April 7. His mother believes he may have been taking part in a blackout challenge.

Archie Battersbee with his mother Hollie Dance (PA Media)

No images or videos of Archie taking part in online challenges or with items around his head or neck were found on his phone, a detective told his inquest. Members of his family told the hearing in Chelmsford that they saw no signs of low mood and did not believe he would try to harm himself.

Detective Sergeant Tiffany Gore told the inquest a voice note dated April 3 was found on Archie’s phone when officers looked at it.

The officer said that the audio, in 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.”

The officer said there was also a “heated exchange” on 15 February with a “number of voice notes” in a second young male voice.

Archie was a “complex child”, the inquest heard (PA Media)

Essex’s senior coroner Lincoln Brookes said: “One could characterise it as a heated exchange of bravado where each are threatening and saying they know someone who could harm (the other).”

Ms Gore said police recovered 695 images and 282 videos from Archie’s phone.

She said that none of these showed Archie with anything around his head or neck, or participating in any challenges.

She said that among the videos were some of the martial arts fan “punching on the bob”, adding that they showed “a happy little boy enjoying his hobbies”.

The officer said that Archie had TikTok on his phone and she “can’t say with absolute certainty that Archie didn’t see an online challenge” or something containing “suicidal thoughts”.

Paul Battersbee and Ms Dance fought a legal battle to keep him on life support (PA Wire)

She said that Archie had not videoed or photographed himself taking part in challenges, and that he had not searched the internet for an online blackout challenge.

Archie’s older half-brother Thomas Summers described Archie as a “joker”, adding “he was very funny”.

“I would teach him how to box and we would playfight together,” he said.

He said that earlier in the day of the incident Archie had called him to ask him about where he got one of his coats from.

“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 Mr Summers.

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

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

She described an occasion in the days before the incident when Archie was playing, trying to pull a door closed with a cord attached to the top of his head.

Matthew Badcock, the headmaster at Archie’s former primary school, said: “Although Archie was challenging he was lovely with it and rarely disrespectful.”

Archie spent months on life support before a judge ruled doctors could let him die (AP)

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”.

“Archie had such extreme upper body strength I never felt he would fall,” he said.

Mr Badcock said that Archie was a “complex child” but he “never felt Archie was in danger of harm”, adding: “There’s no doubt Hollie loved Archie immensely and he was her little prince.”

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.

The inquest heard Archie had been suspended from secondary school on three separate occasions, with the most recent being a two-day suspension on March 17 for a physical assault against a pupil.

Dr Malik Ramadhan, who is medical director of the Royal London hospital and was not one of Archie’s treating clinicians, was asked to give an overview of Archie’s time at the hospital.

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”.

“Archie was on the brink of death when he was in Southend and remained on the brink of death for the next four months and was kept alive by completely artificial means,” Dr Ramadhan said.

The inquest continues.

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