A teenager whose disappearance on a cold February day sparked a frantic missing persons appeal was tragically found dead in woodland the next morning, an inquest has heard.

Seventeen-year-old Ellis Battersby, who lived Stewarts Way in Marlow Bottom, went missing on the afternoon of February 26, prompting a major police search.

But early on February 27, the Henley College student’s body was discovered by his devastated friend Fiona and her mum Jane Passingham, who had been out searching for him in nearby Munces Wood.

At an inquest into Ellis’s death on Wednesday, it was heard that the teenager had Autistic Spectrum Disorder and fluctuating anxiety and was under Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) to manage this.

He was reported missing by his mum on February 26 after he failed to return home by the time it was getting dark.

In a statement, Jane Passingham said as a friend of her daughter’s, she had known Ellis since 2016.

She told how she had been out for the evening celebrating her birthday when Fiona received a text from Ellis’s brother Tom asking if she knew where Ellis was.

Fiona, who also went to Henley College and would drive Ellis there, said she had not seen him that day as she did not go to college on Wednesdays.

At around 10.30pm that night, police visited Fiona to find out more details about Ellis as the search got underway.

But at around 3.30am, the family was notified that a note from Ellis had been discovered.

Worried sick and unable to sleep, Jane and Fiona went out at around 6.30am on February 27 to look for Ellis.

Jane said: “We went into Munces Wood and went to places known to Fiona as places Ellis goes. I saw him and realised he was attached to the tree and called police.”

Fiona said she was expecting to find Ellis alive, “huddled in a corner shivering” because it was a “cold and snowy” day.

A post-mortem determined he had died as a result of hanging. There was no alcohol in his system and only therapeutic levels of prescribed Sertraline.

At Ellis’s last review with a consultant under CAMHS in September last year, he was reported to be doing well, although appeared to be anxious about a change in routine brought about by starting at Henley College.

His consultant felt that this anxiety would subside as he got used to his new routine.

Henley College counsellor Emma Holmes said staff had no concerns about his behaviour while at college.

As part of her role, she had asked all students if they had ever felt suicidal or felt like self-harming, and Ellis had said he had back when he was in Year 11 but hadn’t felt that way for a long time.

She mentioned Ellis had some concerns that he would never be independent, able to get a job or learn to drive.

Senior coroner for Buckinghamshire Crispin Butler said friends, family, his GP, CAMHS and the college all knew parts of Ellis’s situation but not the full picture.

Concluding that Ellis’s death was suicide, Mr Butler said the situation was an “absolute tragedy”.

He said: “The intention was that he wasn’t supposed to be found. He went to a location that he knew was sufficiently remote. He wanted to do this without anyone knowing this would happen.

“He died in the context of ASD and fluctuating anxiety and previous suicidal thoughts over a number of years.

“I don’t think this was experimentation and I don’t think he was intending anyone to find him.”

For confidential support in the UK, call the Samaritans on 116123, email jo@samaritans.org or visit a local Samaritans branch. See samaritans.org for more details.