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Archie Spriggs murder trial: Both parents claimed schoolboy was emotionally abused by the other

By Dominic Robertson | Church Stretton | Crime | Published:

Archie Spriggs murder trial: Both parents claimed schoolboy was emotionally abused by the other

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

Both parents of a seven-year-old Shropshire boy allegedly murdered by his mother made claims that he was being emotionally abused by the other, a court heard.

Lesley Speed, 44, was involved in an acrimonious custody battle with her ex-partner over youngster Archie Spriggs.

She allegedly strangled Archie at their home in Rushbury, near Church Stretton, to prevent him being taken away from her.

Her trial heard yesterday how Speed and Archie's father, Matthew Spriggs, had separately contacted Speed’s GP about their concerns.

But GP Dr Aidan Savage told the jury that from his observations Archie appeared to be “a normal little boy”.

He said that the boy’s father was not a patient at the practice, but had contacted staff about his wellbeing. He said that Speed made claims and “vice versa” so had his father.

Giving evidence, Dr Savage, a partner at Church Stretton Medical Practice, said the last contact he had with Speed was a phone consultation two days before Archie was found dead on September 21 last year.

He confirmed that Speed “reported that she remained in dispute with Mr Spriggs over contact with Archie and that she had not allowed Archie to see him because Mr Spriggs had delayed returning Archie to her care. Her main concern was the emotional abuse of Archie by him”.

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Distressed

He added: “She alleged that Mr Spriggs had told Archie that he was being taken away to live in Slovakia or London and she also alleged that he had taken Archie to view another school. She also relayed that Archie was distressed about what Mr Spriggs made him say or do.”

Dr Savage said that she gave no more details.

Miss Sally Howes QC, prosecuting, put to Dr Savage that Speed had claimed that Archie had said “he wished he was dead so that he wouldn’t need to see Mr Spriggs again”. Dr Savage replied: “That is correct.”

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“I recorded that she was anxious and I was concerned about her demeanour. I closed the conversation by advising that she got help regarding her own health,” he said.

He told the jury that after the phone call he emailed children’s mental health service Compass and phoned Shropshire Council’s safeguarding team to report what Speed said.

Under cross-examination by Miss Rachel Brand QC, defending, Dr Savage said he had treated Speed for depression over the years.

Son had told mother how he wanted to die, jury told

Archie had spoken of wanting to die days before tragedy struck, the court has heard.

Giving evidence for the prosecution, friend Sylvia Jones told the court that two days before the death she and her own son, a school friend of Archie’s, spent the evening with the family.

She said: “The last time I saw Les was September 19. I met her outside the school after homework club.

“She started to cry and said the night before Archie had been upset.

“She said he told her he wanted to die and she didn’t know how to help him.

“She said she had contacted her GP and they had referred him to CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services).”

Ms Jones said they then took the children grass sledging at Carding Mill.

The case so far:

“Archie was sledging close to the rocks. I told him to be careful,” Ms Jones told the court.

"He didn’t get hurt, but fell off a couple of times. Archie was saying ‘I want to be dead, so what?’.

“I thought he was trying to provoke reaction. At this point I can’t tell you what it meant.”

Ms Jones said she called at the property at least four times on September 21, the day the defendant was also due to attend a custody case with Archie’s father but there was no response.

Archie was found dead in his bedroom at home in Rushbury Road, Wall under Heywood, while Speed was found by her partner Darren Jones with wounds to her neck and arms.

Speed denies murder. The trial continues at Birmingham Crown Court.

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