A coroner said he has seen no evidence Archie Battersbee was taking part in an online blackout challenge, as an inquest heard police have found messages on the 12-year-old’s phone reflecting “very low mood”. Archie’s life support was withdrawn on August 6 after his parents Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee failed in bids to overturn a High Court ruling that doctors could lawfully do so.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 had found Archie unconscious with a ligature over his head at home in Southend, Essex, on April 7.
Doctors treating Archie at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, thought he was brain-stem dead and said continued life-support treatment was not in his best interests.
Ms Dance thinks her son may have been taking part in an online challenge before he was found unconscious.
But Essex’s senior coroner, Lincoln Brookes, presiding over a pre-inquest review hearing in Chelmsford on Tuesday, said there was “no evidence at this stage to substantiate the concern”.
She said: “Most of his internet searches are in relation to his interests.” This included one search for “how much do MMA fighters get paid”.
DI Weeks said Archie had the TikTok social media app on his phone and he was “using and accessing TikTok” on April 7, but there was “no evidence” to suggest he was taking part in an online challenge.
Ms Weeks said Archie’s phone had since been submitted for a “full forensic download”.
In a further update, 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.”
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.”
He said topics the full inquest will cover will include Archie’s medical cause of death and his “state of mind and his intentions on April 7 2022”.
Tuesday’s hearing was also told Ms Dance had concerns about Archie being taken first to Southend Hospital instead of directly to the Royal London Hospital.
But 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.