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Archie Spriggs murder trial: Seven-year-old could have tied ligature, court told

By Deborah Hardiman | Church Stretton | News | Published:

A forensic scientist told the trial of a mother accused of strangling her son that tests showed it was possible for a child his size to have tied the ligature.

Lesley Speed, 44, right, denies murdering her seven-year-old son Archie Spriggs

Knot expert Robert Bone said experiments using Archie Sprigg’s bunk bed did not result in any “cracks, bowing or damage” to it.

The seven year old was found dead at home in Rushbury Road, Rushbury near Heywood under wall near Church Stretton on September 21 last year.

His mother Lesley Speed, aged 44, claims that she found him hanged and had tried to revive him.

Mr Bone told the jury that three tests were carried out in a reconstruction exercise using a similar scarf to the youngster’s.

Mr Bone said: “From the account given by the defendant it was possible for a child of Archie’s size and weight to secure a single knot to the neck and a different knot to the top rail.”

“In all three suspensions there was an upward direction of the ligature to the top rail,” Mr Bone said.

The jury previously heard that the post mortem report found that schoolboy had an horizontal tied mark and that injuries to his mouth raised the possibility of smothering of some sort whether with fabric or by hand. He died as a result of the blocking of his airways.

The prosecution alleges that Speed strangled then smothered the youngster.

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It has also been alleged that Speed, who was embroiled in an acrimonious custody dispute with Archie’s father Matthew Spriggs, murdered her son rather than see him leave with his father, and that she had not prepared herself for preliminary family court proceedings due to be held in Telford on the day of the incident.

She was discovered bleeding heavily from cuts to her neck and arm and Archie dead by her partner Darren Jones when he returned from work at about 6pm. He has told the jury that Speed said she had killed him and she could not bear to live without him.

The jury also heard that she had swallowed a number of tablets and bleach. She was treated in hospital before she was arrested and charged with Archie’s murder.

Speed had been diagnosed with depression on a number of occasions prior to her don’s death. Her GP records showed that the defendant had been diagnosed in 1998 and 2014. She was also assessed in January this year and also on March 3 ahead of the start of the trial.

The prosecution said one assessment found that Speed suffered a severe episode of depression with psychotic symptoms that would have “substantially impaired” Speed’s thinking ability, self-control and ability to make a “rational judgement”, while another assessment concluded that her level of depression was “moderate”.

Speed denies murder. The trial continues.

Deborah Hardiman

By Deborah Hardiman
@Deborahh_Star

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star based out of the head office in Ketley. Covering the Telford area.

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