Two-year-old Bronson Battersby died from a lack of water, inquest opening told

Greater Lincolnshire Coroner’s Court was told the ‘malnourished’ toddler was found next to the body of his father, having died from dehydration.

A general view of Greater Lincolnshire Coroner’s Court.
A general view of Greater Lincolnshire Coroner’s Court.

Two-year-old Bronson Battersby – whose body was found next to that of his father at their home in January – died from dehydration, a coroner’s court has heard.

The inquest opening on the toddler was told he “appeared to be quite malnourished” when he was discovered dead between the legs of Kenneth Battersby at their home in Skegness, Lincolnshire.

An eight-minute hearing held at Greater Lincolnshire Coroner’s Court on Thursday was told that the pair’s bodies were discovered after a neighbour called police on the afternoon of January 9.

In evidence to the hearing, a coroner’s officer confirmed that Bronson’s body was formally identified by a detective sergeant on January 15, three days after a post-mortem examination carried out at Leicester Royal Infirmary which confirmed his cause of death as dehydration.

Detective inspector Claire Rimmer, of Lincolnshire Eastern Protecting Vulnerable Persons Unit, also gave evidence to the hearing, reading a statement on the circumstances in which Bronson’s body was found.

Ms Rimmer said Bronson lived with his father, who had separated from the toddler’s mother, in a basement flat in Prince Alfred Avenue.

The senior officer told Senior Coroner Paul Smith: “At 15.25 on January 9, police were called by a neighbour reporting concerns that she had not seen Kenneth Battersby for several days and there was a smell coming from the flat.”

After a social worker and a landlady gained entry to the flat, Kenneth’s body was found on the floor behind the living room door, preventing it from being opened further and leaving them “unaware that Bronson was also in the room”.

Paramedics attended and the deaths of Kenneth and Bronson were confirmed at 4.31pm, the court heard.

The coroner was told that a malnourished dog was found inside the property, while the bath tub was found “filled with water”.

Ms Rimmer added: “A final (pathologist’s) report has given dehydration as the cause of (Bronson’s) death.”

Adjourning the inquest to a provisional date of December 10, Mr Smith said he was awaiting reports from a number of agencies, adding: “I am satisfied that the circumstances of Bronson’s death are such that an inquest will be required.

“It clearly requires a thorough and sensitive investigation.”

The police watchdog has previously said it will investigate whether there were any “missed opportunities” by officers prior to the deaths of Bronson and his 60-year-old father, who relatives believe died from natural causes.

Lincolnshire County Council has confirmed Bronson had been known to children’s services and would typically be seen at least once a month by social workers.

In a statement issued shortly after the deaths, a spokesman for the county council confirmed the social worker communicated with Mr Battersby on December 27 and arranged to visit them on January 2, but there was no response when they arrived at the door.

The social worker “made inquiries at other addresses where the child could be” and contacted the police, before a second unannounced visit on January 4 also went unanswered, and Lincolnshire Police was contacted again.