Archie Spriggs murder trial: Teachers 'didn't think Shropshire schoolboy was at risk'

By Deborah Hardiman | Church Stretton | Crime | Published:

The trial of a Shropshire woman accused of murdering her seven-year-old son has heard that teachers at his school did not think that he was at risk of harm.

Lesley Speed, 44, right, denies murdering her son Archie Spriggs, 7

Archie Spriggs was allegedly strangled at his home near Church Stretton by his mother Lesley Speed on September 21 last year. She was embroiled in a custody battle with his father at the time of the tragedy.

The jury heard that the family had previously been referred to Shropshire Council’s social services as part of efforts by teachers at Rushbury CE Primary Scool, in Rushbury, near Wall under Heywood, to support them after Speed turned up in tears and told them she was worried Archie’s dad would take him away.

The staff were also aware of their “acrimonious” relationship.

Giving evidence, teacher Susan Manley, the school’ s safeguarding lead, explained that there had been an incident in November 2016 at parents’ evening when Speed requested that his father Matthew Spriggs not be told that Archie was having issues with spelling.

“She said that he would be cross. I felt very awkward,” Mrs Manley said.

Mrs Manley said she did mention the spelling to Mr Spriggs.

The case so far:


Mrs Manley recounted Speed’s reaction when Mr Spriggs had kept Archie for a longer time than agreed in May 2017.

“She came into the classroom. She was really upset. I took mum to the staffroom to wait for Archie to come into school. Archie was fine. I told him his mum was there and he seemed bemused as to why.

"I took Archie to see his mum. She was very pleased to see him and gave him a big hug. She was upset and she was crying and asking him if he was all right. He gave her a hug and a kiss,” Mrs Manley said.

She said Speed requested a meeting with her on September 13 last year.


“She started telling me about dad and that he applied for something at the court. She said Archie had not seen his dad for about 16 weeks. She told me that the family court service might come in to the school. She said that Archie was going to see his dad, but she wasn’t happy with the times.

“She was very upset. She was talking a lot about dad.

“She was cross that nobody wanted to listen to her. Cross about things that had happened in the past between her and Archie’s dad. She said very little about Archie, it was mainly about his dad,” Mrs Manley said.

“I said I would contact social services to get her some support because she didn’t have any.”

°I wasn’t worried that Archie was at risk,” she added.


Headteacher Diane Pye told the jury that she had discussed with Speed and Mr Spriggs about the impact of their behaviour on him.

She said that in those discussions Mr Spriggs was “sometimes emotional and sometimes intense. He was very keen to present himself as a strong parent and the parent that Archie should be with”.

She said social services' early help team had come into the school to work with Archie.

The schoolboy was found dead and Speed found with cuts to her neck and arms at their Rushbury Road home after she failed to turn up for family court proceedings on September 21.

Speed, 44, denies murdering Archie. The trial continues at Birmingham Crown Court.

Deborah Hardiman

By Deborah Hardiman

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star based out of the head office in Ketley. Covering the Telford area.

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