Shropshire Star

'She felt I should have walked away and kept feeding her money': Father speaks of tragic battle to save murdered son

The father of murdered seven-year-old Archie Spriggs has told how the mother who killed him felt he should have "just walked away and kept feeding her money".

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Archie Spriggs was just seven when he was murdered by his mother.

Matthew Spriggs has told of the harrowing story of his experience in trying to protect his son – who was killed by his ex-partner, and Archie's mother, Lesley Speed.

Speed murdered Archie at their home in Wall-under-Heywood, near Church Stretton, on September 21, 2017.

In March 2018 she was jailed for life, with a minimum term of 18 years after a jury convicted her of murder.

Both Speed's trial and the inquest into Archie's death heard how opportunities for intervention were missed despite Mr Spriggs repeatedly reporting concerns for his son’s safety and wellbeing to social services, West Mercia Police, Rushbury Church of England Primary School, Ofsted and the NSPCC.

Mr Spriggs has now spoken of the ordeal on a Channel Four documentary 'How to be a Man' with Danny Dyer.

The documentary explores modern issues with masculinity and those facing men.

One of those issues is the frustration of fathers dealing with custody battles through the courts – with campaigners claiming mothers are favoured in the vast majority of cases, due to being seen as the safer option.

In the show Dyer visits Matthew, and his wife Ivana, at his parents' home to hear about Archie's tragic tale.

In a moving and emotional interview Mr Spriggs tells Dyer how Archie was "my everything", and how the senseless loss caused his world to fall apart.

Sitting discussing what happened Mr Spriggs explains how Speed was threatening, ignored court orders, made up lies about his behaviour, and harmed his son – all before she finally killed him.

He said: "2010 my son Archie was born with a c-section, I was the first person to hold him, he was my everything.

"Six months later my ex and I split up, it wasn't a very nice time. On the night that we split up she came at me with a rounders bat – a baseball bat, I left with Archie to try and protect him to go to her sister's just around the corner.

"The police came they took Archie off me, I then got told to leave the area not knowing if my son was okay or not. I went back to my parents, it was one of the worst times in my life."

He added: "She stopped contact with Archie so I was not able to see my son.

"I think she believed I should of just walked away and kept feeding her money and I couldn't walk away from my son.

"She made up allegations I was an alcoholic drug user. All sorts."

Lesley Speed was jailed for life in 2018 for Archie's murder.

Mr Spriggs explains that he was given limited and supervised access to Archie before Speed's cruel allegations were proved to be lies.

He said: "A court ordered one hour every fortnight at a contact centre."

He added: "I had hair follicle samples, I had my medical records looked at with a fine-tooth comb then all the allegations that she created were proved to be false."

Mr Spriggs explains that although access increased Speed breached numerous court orders and he became concerned about his son's safety – concerns he reported, but were not acted upon, with tragic consequences.

He said: "He used to come regularly to me with bruises on, and the one time there's almost finger prints on his leg, I asked him how he got those, his comment was 'mummy held me upside down and shook me'.

"He was four at the time I believe. I reported that to the school, the doctor, the police.

"In 2017 we went back to court, I went into court she never showed up. The judge indicated because of her not actually showing up he would give her one last chance and they set a new court date.

"I got home that evening, the police turned up. She had murdered my son. She murdered him.

"I cannot understand how a parent can do that to their child. My whole world just fell apart."