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Neighbour contacted children’s charity about Bronson Battersby in days before tragic death

The NSPCC was contacted over concerns about Bronson Battersby’s wellbeing in the days before the two-year-old’s tragic death, prompting the children’s charity to make a referral to social services.

Bronson’s father Kenneth Battersby, 60, is believed to have suffered a fatal heart attack shortly after the pair were last seen alive at their home in Skegness, Lincolnshire, on Boxing Day, leaving the toddler alone in the dark with no food or water for days.

Bronson was found dead next to his father’s body two weeks later, with preliminary tests reportedly finding that the boy, who was under children’s services care, had died of dehydration and starvation.

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

Neighbour Amanda Tovey, 43, told the Daily Mirror she contacted the NSPCC after hearing the toddler “crying all night” in the weeks leading up to his death.

She said: “It was mainly at night when he started having a go at the poor lad. I could hear it all from my flat above, but I never felt I was in a position to confront him. I have no kids myself so cannot tell someone else how to parent a child. I was concerned and shortly before Christmas contacted the NSPCC because I could hear the boy crying all night.”

An NSPCC spokesperson said: “We are upset and deeply saddened by the tragic death of Bronson Battersby and our thoughts are with all those who knew and loved this little boy.

“The NSPCC Helpline was contacted by an adult with concerns about Bronson’s wellbeing. We then spoke to this individual before making a referral to the appropriate authorities.

“We are ready to fully support any review into this extremely upsetting case.”

They added that the extent of the children’s charity’s powers is to make a referral to the appropriate authorities, which they do in cases assessed as potentially more serious.

Kenneth Battersby is believed to have died of a heart attack shortly after the pair were last seen alive on Boxing Day, leaving Bronson in the dark with no food or water for days (Facebook)
Kenneth Battersby is believed to have died of a heart attack shortly after the pair were last seen alive on Boxing Day, leaving Bronson in the dark with no food or water for days (Facebook)

Lincolnshire Police said on Wednesday that it had referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) over the incident. The watchdog confirmed on Thursday that it is launching an independent investigation “to consider the police response” and “whether there were any missed opportunities” by officers before the deaths.

The force also said the exact actions of all organisations involved will be analysed in a forthcoming review, while Lincolnshire County Council said it has launched a “rapid review” of the case.

The council told The Independent that social services spoke with Kenneth 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 a social worker gained access from the landlord.

Bronson’s half-sister Melanie Battersby, 37, told the BBC she does not blame social services or police for her half-brother’s death but believed they “did what they could within the powers that they had”.

Bronson’s mother, Sarah Piesse, 43, said she was ‘haunted’ by the vision of her little boy desperately searching for food or water after his father died (Facebook)
Bronson’s mother, Sarah Piesse, 43, said she was ‘haunted’ by the vision of her little boy desperately searching for food or water after his father died (Facebook)

Ms Battersby – who shares a father with Bronson – said it “could’ve been a different outcome for my baby brother” if social services had been made aware of Mr Battersby’s health issues after they were first unable to contact him.

She said: “I don’t place any blame at all on them. I believe that social services and the police did what they could within the powers that they had and the information that they were given.

“I’m glad that an inquiry is going to take place into whether there were any failings, missed opportunities. I’m really glad that is going to take place.”

Ms Battersby, who lives in Sheffield, thought it “must be devastating for them to work in that profession, to have to deal with tragedies like this”.

Preliminary tests reportedly found that Bronson, who was under children’s services care, had died of dehydration and starvation (Facebook)
Preliminary tests reportedly found that Bronson, who was under children’s services care, had died of dehydration and starvation (Facebook)

Paying tribute to the “beautiful, sweet-natured little boy”, Ms Battersby said she last saw Bronson during a family trip to Butlin’s.

She said: “Every time I saw him he was happy, he was smiling, he learnt to walk, he was learning to speak. We’re devastated as a whole family.”

Speaking of her father, she said: “I know how proud he was of every single one of us. He absolutely doted on [Bronson]. I think he loved doing what he was doing for him. Seeing him with him, it was really, really heart-warming. It made me proud of my dad for what he was doing for his little boy. He tried his best for that little boy until his last breath.”

Ms Battersby added that she has found some comfort in the thought that the pair were together in their last moments.

“I was told that they were both found looking very peaceful,” she said. “That is the only consolation I can take. That my little brother snuggled up to my dad. He didn’t look in pain. Neither of them did. And they were together.”

The council confirmed the social worker who tried to visit Bronson and his father has not been suspended but has taken time off following their “traumatic experience”.

Heather Sandy, executive director for children’s services at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “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.”

The Independent has contacted Lincolnshire County Council for further comment.