The parents of a 12-year-old boy who has “catastrophic” brain damage are planning the next stage of a legal fight after a High Court judge reviewed evidence and ruled that doctors could lawfully stop providing life-support treatment.
Mr Justice Hayden described what had happened to Archie Battersbee as a “tragedy of immeasurable dimensions”.
But the judge, who delivered a ruling on Friday after reviewing evidence at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London earlier this week, said medical evidence was “compelling and unanimous”, and painted a “bleak” picture.
Archie’s parents, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee, from Southend in Essex, said they would ask Court of Appeal judges to overturn Mr Justice Hayden’s decision.
Ms Dance, 46, wept outside court as she told how she planned to keep fighting and asked journalists: “Where does a mother’s love stop?”
Mr Justice Hayden heard how Ms Dance found Archie unconscious with a ligature over his head on April 7 – she thinks he might have been taking part in an online challenge.
The youngster has not regained consciousness.
Doctors treating Archie at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, think he is “brain-stem dead” and say continued life support treatment is not in his best interests.
Archie’s parents disagree, and say his heart is still beating.
Lawyers representing the Royal London Hospital’s governing trust, Barts Health NHS Trust, had asked for decisions about what medical moves were in Archie’s best interests.
“Archie would want us to keep on fighting,” Ms Dance said after Mr Justice Hayden’s ruling.
“And we will keep on fighting. We will appeal.”
Ms Dance added: “With all due respect to Mr Justice Hayden, it is not in Archie’s best interests to die.”
She went on: “Where does a mother’s love stop?”
Mr Battersbee said: “There have been too many battles in too short a space of time.
“He needs more time. We’ll try to appeal. Who knows?”
Another High Court judge, Mrs Justice Arbuthnot, had initially considered the case.
She concluded, after an earlier hearing, that Archie was dead.
But Court of Appeal judges had upheld a challenge by Archie’s parents to decisions taken by Mrs Justice Arbuthnot, and said evidence should be reviewed.
Mr Justice Hayden said evidence showed Archie had suffered a “significant injury” to “multiple areas” of his brain and had not “regained awareness at any time”.
“Archie’s mother described him as a fighter and I have no doubt he was,” said Mr Justice Hayden.
“But the fight, if it can properly be characterised as such, is no longer in Archie’s control.
“The damage to his brain has deprived him of any bodily autonomy.
“Eventually Archie’s organs will fail and ultimately his heart will stop.”
Mr Justice Hayden said the reality of Archie’s case was “terrible”.
“There is unfortunately no treatment possible to reverse the damage that has been caused to Archie’s brain,” he said.
“There can be no hope at all of recovery.”
The judge said he had reached his conclusions with “profound regret”.