Abuse fears raised by dad of murdered Archie Spriggs dismissed as 'malicious' by police, inquest hears
Abuse fears raised by the father of Archie Spriggs were dismissed in the belief that he was making “malicious” accusations to “harass” his ex-partner.
Archie suffered years of neglect and abuse at the hands of his mother Lesley Speed before she murdered him at the age of seven.
The inquest heard how Matthew Spriggs desperately pleaded with social workers, police and the NSPCC for someone to help his son in the months before he was killed.
Jeanette Hill, service manager of Compass, Shropshire Council’s ‘front door’ for new inquiries to children’s services, gave evidence on the second day of the inquest detailing the numerous times Mr Spriggs contacted the service in the summer of 2017. On June 16, he contacted social workers after Archie told him that he was neglected and abused by his mother.
Archie had been to stay with his father over the recent half term, after which Speed had stopped contact between Archie and his father. Mr Spriggs reported that Archie’s clothes smelled of mildew and he was always tired and ill.
Archie had told him that his bedding was rarely changed, he was only allowed to shower and clean his teeth once or twice a week, and that he ate no fresh food.
A call was made to Rushbury Church of England Primary School, where Archie was a pupil. Ms Hill said headteacher Diane Pye reported that the school had “no concerns at all” over Archie. It was decided that no further action be taken.
On July 6 Mr Spriggs called social services to reiterate his concerns over Archie’s welfare, following a conversation with the NSPCC. Ms Hill said she again made the decision that no further action be taken, and this was relayed to Mr Spriggs in a call the following day.
Later on July 7 Mr Spriggs raised further concerns with the department, but Ms Hill said her decision still stood, as Mr Spriggs had not had contact with Archie since the beginning of June.
Ms Hill said a referral from the NSPCC had been received on June 28 but this had been “overlooked”.
Police visited Speed’s home on June 22 to speak to her and Archie following a call from Mr Spriggs the previous week.
Officers reported back to social services, saying: “Archie is safe and well. He is well-nourished and happy.
“He was in clean clothes and the house was clean and tidy.”
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They added that they believed Mr Spriggs’ call to them to have been “malicious”, adding: “We believe the informant is using the police to harass his ex-partner.”
The inquest heard that a serious case review undertaken following Archie’s murder found authorities had been biased against Mr Spriggs.
Archie was killed by Speed at their home in Wall under Heywood, near Rushbury, Church Stretton, on September 21, the day she had been due to attend a custody hearing.
Police were called when Speed’s partner returned home that evening and found Archie dead in his bed. She was found guilty of murder and jailed for life in March 2018.
The inquest continues and is expected to conclude next week.
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