No evidence Archie Battersbee did blackout challenge as new details disclosed

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    There is "no evidence" Archie Battersbee took part in an online blackout challenge before slipping into a coma, a coroner has said.

    An inquest also heard that police discovered messages on the 12-year-old's phone following his death, which indicated that the child may have been suffering from "very low mood".

    Archie fell into a coma and was placed on life support, but this was stopped on August 6 after a lengthy legal battle by parents Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee to keep the machine switched on failed.

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    Ms Dance reportedly found Archie unconscious with a ligature over his head on April 7 of this year at home in Southend, Essex.

    She believed he had taken part in a "Blackout Challenge," a dangerous online trend where youngsters reportedly try different methods to make themselves go unconscious.

    However, Essex's senior coroner, Lincoln Brookes, said there was "no evidence at this stage to substantiate the concern".

    "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," Brookes said.

    Archie was treated at the Royal London Hospital in east London, however medical staff came to believe he was brain-stem dead.

    They said carrying on with life support treatment was not in Archie's best interests and argued that his treatment should stop.

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    At a pre-inquest review hearing in Chelmsford on Tuesday (November 8), Mr Brookes said: "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."

    Mr Brooke went on to reveal that an Essex Police officer had examined the content of Archie's phone, which turned up messages indicating what Mr Brookes described as "very low mood".

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

    The officer said Ms Dance, who attended the review hearing in person, had given her consent for officers to download information from Archie's phone.

    "There are no photographs or videos on the download that suggest Archie was taking part in any online challenge," Ms Weeks said.

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

    She added that Archie used YouTube "regularly" but that most of his searches were about "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 said that Archie was also "using and accessing TikTok" on April 7, but added that there was "no evidence" that he was taking part in an online challenge when he became injured.

    In a subsequent 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."

    The hearing also heard Ms Dance had been worried about Archie being taken first to Southend Hospital and not directly to the Royal London Hospital – however, the coroner stressed her lawyer "makes it clear this is a mother's fears rather than anything that has an evidential basis behind it".

    A full inquest has been set for February 7 and is expected to last one day.


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