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Bronson Battersby’s mother reveals heartbreaking new details as death of toddler investigated

Review of authorities’ actions triggered as boy reportedly found starved to death weeks after he was last seen alive

Tara Cobham
Thursday 18 January 2024 15:29 GMT
Tragic toddler Bronson Battersby ‘left to starve to death next to father’s body’

Bronson Battersby’s mother has revealed heartbreaking details of the tragic death of the toddler, who reportedly starved after being left alone for days with his father’s body.

The two-year-old was found dead next to Kenneth Battersby’s body two weeks after the pair were last seen alive at their home in Skegness, Lincolnshire by a neighbour on Boxing Day.

Kenneth, 60, is believed to have died of a heart attack shortly afterwards, leaving Bronson in the dark with no food or water.

Two-year-old Bronson Battersby was found starved to death weeks after he was last seen alive (Facebook)

Fighting back tears, Bronson’s heartbroken mother Sarah Piesse, 43, said her son was just two inches too small to reach a fridge full of Christmas leftovers that would have saved him. He also could not reach the tap because of his height, nor his snacks as they had recently been moved to a higher cupboard to prevent him from helping himself to them.

Piesse told The Sun she is kept awake by the “haunting” vision of her “gorgeous boy”, who was born weighing just over 4lb, desperately scrambling around in the dark, searching for food and water.

Telling of how she still has her son’s Christmas present – a toy steering wheel – at home, she said: “I know the two of them had a big Christmas dinner together. They had all the trimmings and chicken instead of turkey, because Bronson liked chicken. All the food would have still been in the fridge. If only Bronson was a little bit taller, then he would have survived. The fridge would have been packed with Christmas leftovers.”

Sarah Piesse said her son was just two inches too small to reach a fridge full of Christmas leftovers (Facebook)

Smiling as she remembered her boy, she continued: “A typical, cheeky, little two-year-old. He was always trying to get his favourite pink wafers. And then when we said no more, he’d smile and shout, ‘Yeah! More, more, more!’ Kenny moved all the snacks higher up so he couldn’t get to them without asking.

“Now all I can think of in my head is him, starving, reaching up and trying to get them. I can’t bear it. He was about two inches off being able to reach the fridge to open it.

“His last moments were spent alone and he must have been so thirsty and hungry. He will have been crying. He will have been so confused. And Kenny was there on the floor. I can only pray he thought his dad was asleep.”

Kenneth Battersby is believed to have died of a heart attack shortly after 26 December, leaving Bronson in the dark with no food or water (Facebook)

A tormented Piesse said she is kept awake at night, unable to forgive herself for not being there to save her two-year-old.

She said: “It is haunting me. If I can fall asleep at all, it is only for a few hours. I jolt awake thinking of him wandering around alone, starving. He must have been so weak in the end that he decided to give up and hold on to his dad, hugging his legs.

“I will never forgive myself for not being there. When I picture him alone in that flat it makes me feel like a failure, cruel, selfish. That little boy was sitting there wanting a drink, wanting something to eat. It breaks my heart even more.”

Piesse questioned why the authorities did not do more for her boy.

She said: “I just don’t understand why the alarm wasn’t raised sooner. Why didn’t they do it? I am in a living nightmare and I am never going to wake up from it.”

Lincolnshire County Council told The Independent that social services spoke with Battersby on 27 December to organise a visit to the home on 2 January. After receiving no response that day, the council said the social worker contacted police and made an unannounced visit two days later, after which they again contacted police.

However, it was another five days before the father and son’s bodies were found on 9 January, after the council said the social worker was forced to gain access from the landlord to enter the property themselves.

A “rapid review” of the case has been launched by the council after preliminary tests reportedly found that Bronson, who was under children’s services care, had died of dehydration and starvation. Lincolnshire Police said the exact actions of all organisations involved will be analysed in a forthcoming review.

The force said it has also referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC). A spokesperson for the watchdog confirmed that it is now assessing the referral to determine further action.

Piesse said she found out Kenneth Battersby had died from a friend who lives on his road and immediately asked, “Where the hell is my boy then? Who has my boy?”

She told The Sun: “I got down there as fast as I could. I was there in 10 minutes flat. I ran down the road screaming Bronson’s name. I screamed for him, knowing he’d need me. I was scared about what he might have seen with his dad passing away.

“But the police put me in the back of an ambulance at the scene. They told me a two-year-old boy was found at the scene and they were doing a post-mortem.

“My whole world fell apart. I was screaming, ‘How? How?’ I knew there was no way that Kenny would let anything happen to Bronson. He would never lay a finger on him.”

Piesse said she and Battersby – who also share a three-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son – had an on-off relationship after splitting in 2019. When Piesse moved into a new flat six months ago, she said the pair decided that Bronson would live with Battersby as they deemed the high staircase without a banister in her home unsafe.

Speaking through tears, Piesse said a row with Battersby had meant she had last seen Bronson in November when she had made him spaghetti bolognese and he had played with his siblings. She said she was supposed to see her son this month to give him his Christmas present.

She told The Sun: “Kenny and Bronson always had a bond, so it made sense when I got the new flat for Bronson to stay with him.

“Social services were involved, so I knew they were around and they were checking in.

“Kenny and I had argued in November and if he said no, he meant no. So I backed off a bit and gave him space. I will never stop regretting that now. I can’t sleep because every time I close my eyes I see his face.”

She added: “No other mother should have to go through what I have been through.

“I want to know why did they not gain access on the first visit? That would have saved him.”

The social worker involved has not been suspended but has taken time off following the incident.

Heather Sandy, executive director for children’s services at Lincolnshire County Council, told The Independent: “This was a tragic incident, and we are supporting the family at this difficult time.

“We are currently carrying out a review of the case alongside partner agencies to better understand the circumstances, and we await the results of the coroner’s investigations as well.

“Our thoughts are with the family and friends of those involved.”

Lincolnshire Police said: “Police were made aware of the deaths of a 60-year-old man and a two-year-old child at a property in Prince Alfred Avenue, Skegness, at around 3.25pm on Tuesday 9 January.

“Investigations have been carried out and the deaths are not being treated as suspicious.

“The matter has been passed to the coroner’s office.”

They added: “The exact actions of organisations involved will be analysed in a forthcoming review and, at this stage, it would be inappropriate to comment further.

“As part of standard procedures we have referred this to the IOPC as a result of a death or serious injury following police involvement.”

A spokesperson for the Independent Office for Police Conduct said: “We can confirm that we have received a referral in relation to this matter from Lincolnshire Police and we are now assessing that to determine what further action is required from us.”

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