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Murderer claimed her seven-year-old son Archie Spriggs was suicidal

By Keri Trigg | Church Stretton | Crime | Published:

Murderer Lesley Speed told friends her seven-year-old son Archie Spriggs was suicidal before she killed him.

Archie Spriggs

The inquest into Archie’s death heard yesterday how Speed planted the rumours before killing Archie, and later claimed to police he had done it himself.

On September 19, two days before she smothered him in his bed, she told a friend and Archie’s GP that he “wanted to kill himself” so he did not have to see his father. Speed was at the time involved in a custody battle with Archie’s father, Matthew Spriggs.

The GP made an urgent referral to the child mental health service CAMHS and contacted Shropshire Social Services.

The inquest so far:

Diane Pye, headteacher at Rushbury Church of England Primary School, told the inquest she was only made aware of Speed saying Archie wanted to kill himself after his death.

She said: “In the time immediately after Archie died I had parents saying to me, ‘how did you not know he had tried to kill himself before?’.”

“Lots of parents came to see me. I was hearing from them and from some of my staff that people knew Lesley was saying he had tried to kill himself before. It was a complete shock to me.”

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Lesley Speed

Speed’s friend met Mrs Pye the day after Archie’s death, and said Speed had told her earlier that week she was “worried Archie was going to kill himself”. But Mrs Pye said: “He was happy and got on well with other children, and I never had any concerns.”

“Archie was a well-mannered child. He would chat to you on quite an adult level," said Mrs Pye.

“He worked hard and tried hard.

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“He was always well-dressed, clean, articulate and bright.”

“He took academic work seriously and wanted to do well.”

Mrs Pye said she had always known Archie’s parents were separated and they had both regularly spoken to her about their concerns over the other parent. She “made a point” of getting to know him and spoke to him regularly.

Archie Spriggs

In the months before he was killed, Mrs Pye said she was made aware Speed had stopped contact between Archie and his father, though there was no court order to this effect.

In June 2017, the school was contacted by social services after Mr Spriggs reported Archie being abused and neglected by his mother. Mrs Pye told social workers she had no concerns.

Around the same time, Mrs Pye said Speed befriended another mother who had been a victim of domestic violence.

 
   
  

She said: “I got the impression that Lesley wanted to be like her friend. She wanted to be a victim.

“She wanted to receive the help and support that her friend received. It was all about her, not about Archie.”

Mrs Pye added: “Archie never criticised either parent to me. He was caught in the middle but just got on with it.”

Lesley Speed

On September 14 Speed told Archie’s new teacher Sue Manley about the situation with Mr Spriggs, and said the only thing that would solve it would be “a shotgun and a shovel”.

Ms Manley reported the comment to social services.

Speed killed Archie at their home in Wall under Heywood on September 21. She denied murder but was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison March last year.

The inquest will also hear from medical professionals and police who had contact with the family before Archie’s murder.

Keri Trigg

By Keri Trigg
Reporter - @KeriTrigg_Star

Senior reporter covering Shrewsbury and South Shropshire for the Shropshire Star.

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