The sister of Bronson Battersby who reportedly starved after being left alone for days when his father suffered a fatal heart attack has said she does not blame social services or police for the two-year-old’s death.
Speaking to the BBC, Melanie Battersby, 37, believed “social services and the police did what they could within the powers that they had”.
It comes as the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said it will investigate “whether there were any missed opportunities” by Lincolnshire Police officers before the deaths of the toddler and his father Kenneth Battersby, 60, at their home in Skegness, Lincolnshire.
Mr 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. The two-year-old was found dead next to his father’s body two weeks later, with preliminary tests reportedly finding that Bronson, who was under children’s services care, had died of dehydration and starvation.
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 a social worker was forced to gain access from the landlord to enter the property themselves.
Lincolnshire Police said on Wednesday that it had referred itself to the IOPC over the incident. The watchdog confirmed on Thursday that it is launching an independent investigation “to consider the police response”.
Lincolnshire Police also said the exact actions of all organisations involved will be analysed in a forthcoming review, while the council said it has launched a “rapid review” of the case.
Ms Battersby – who shares a father with Bronson – told BBC Breakfast 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”.
Paying tribute to the “beautiful, sweet-natured little boy”, Ms Battersby said she last saw Bronson during a family trip to Butlins.
She said: “Every time I saw him he was happy, he was smiling, he learned 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.”