Archie Spriggs murder: ‘Chilling letter’ left by killer mother Lesley Speed
A judge has spoken of the “chilling” letter left by Lesley Speed as she attempted to pin the blame for her son’s death on his father.
Speed was yesterday jailed for life, with a minimum term of 18 years, at Birmingham Crown Court.
On Monday the 44-year-old was found guilty of murdering her seven-year-old son Archie at their home in Rushbury, near Church Stretton, on September 21 last year.
During the course of the trial jurors heard how Speed and Archie’s father, Matthew Spriggs, were involved in a “bitter and acrimonious” custody dispute over where the youngster should live.
Sentencing her, Justice Nichol said Speed had carried out the greatest abuse of trust.
He said: “I have to sentence you for the murder of your son Archie. He was described as a playful and bubbly child who was interested in how things worked.
“His teachers said that he was chatty and popular, kind and caring with a good sense of humour.
“He was interested in books and a mature child for his age.”
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Justice Nichol added: “He talked easily with his teachers. It was his life that you cut short.”
The judge said it was not the “function of this court to to decide the rights and wrongs” of Mr Spriggs’ complaints about Speed’s behaviour or his claims that she was emotionally abusing Archie. He said that was a matter for the Family Court.
He told Speed, who listened to the sentence via a video link from HMP Foston Hall, that her actions could not be excused.
He said: “It goes without saying that Archie was in your care. There can be no greater abuse of trust than to kill a child whom you should have been protecting.
“You may have believed that it would be harmful for him to live with his father. That’s as may be, but even if your belief on that score was genuine, it cannot begin to excuse your action.”
Justice Nichol told Speed that a series of suicide notes left at the scene had included a chilling message to Archie’s father.
He said: “You intended to be dead when Archie’s body was found. You left what were in effect suicide notes for your partner Darren, your son Zack, your daughter Jordan and for Matthew Spriggs.
“Your letter to Mr Spriggs was chilling. You said that you sought to pin responsibility on him, but it was your act which killed Archie not his.”
The judge told Speed that the fact that she had a history of depression and her lack of previous convictions were in her favour.
He jailed her for life with a minimum term of 18 years, minus 181 days already spent on remand.
The trial had heard how Archie was found in his bed at the family’s home, in Rushbury Road, Rushbury, near Wall under Heywood, on September 21 last year, on the day his parents were due to attend family court over a residency order.
The seven-year-old died of asphyxia. The prosecution said he was strangled and smothered by Speed hours before her partner Darren Jones arrived home and discovered the schoolboy dead and her with self-inflicted wounds to her neck, arm and wrist.
The jury found her guilty of murder in a unanimous verdict.
Speed had denied killing Archie and claimed she found him hanged.
We admire their strength and courage – police praise family of young Archie
The conviction of Lesley Speed for her son Archie’s murder will hopefully give some opportunity for closure, Shropshire’s head of policing has said.
Superintendent Jason Wells has also spoken of his admiration for the “strength and courage” of Archie Spriggs’ family, after the seven-year-old’s mother was found guilty of his murder.
Supt Wells said that the case would go down as a “shocking part of the history of Rushbury”.
He was speaking in the wake of the news that Speed will serve a minimum term of 18 years in jail after being found guilty of murder by a jury at Birmingham Crown Court. He said: “This was a very distressing investigation that will have a significant impact on the family, the investigators and the local community.
“We have worked with the family, will continue to work with them and we admire their strength and courage at what is an incredibly difficult time.
“It was an incredible shock when this was first discovered and the community has pulled together in difficult times, particularly in the school that Archie attended (Rushbury CE Primary School).
“The family have come together and hopefully there will now be the opportunity for some kind of closure following the sentencing, although this will always be a shocking part of the history of Rushbury.”
Speed was found guilty of strangling Archie with a scarf despite her defence that she had found him hanged in his bedroom.
John Campion, West Mercia’s Police and Crime Commissioner, also praised those involved in the investigation.
He said: “My thoughts remain with Archie’s family at this exceptionally difficult time. I would like to take this opportunity to thank those involved in this unimaginably challenging investigation. Our communities should be reassured by the hard work of the police and other partners to bring justice for Archie in this extremely tragic case.”
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