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  1. ITV Report

A mother who strangled her son to death with a scarf has been jailed for life

Lesley Speed was jailed for life after murdering her son, seven-year-old Archie Spriggs. Credit: West Mercia Police

A mother who used a scarf and cushion to strangle and smother her seven-year-old son to death has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 18 years.

Archie Spriggs died of asphyxia at his home in Rushbury, near Church Stretton, Shropshire, on 21 September last year.

His mother Lesley Speed had denied murdering her son and tried to claim that Archie killed himself.

Returning the verdict on Monday (26 March), it took the jury at Birmingham Crown Court just over five hours to convict Speed of the killing.

The court heard that the 44-year-old was going through a bitter custody battle with her ex-partner.

Archie Spriggs was found at his mother's home last September Credit: West Mercia Police

Speed feared Archie's father, Matthew Spriggs, would be granted custody of the youngster.

Her partner, Darren Jones, found the child dead on his bunk bed.

He also found Speed on the bathroom floor with self-inflicted knife wounds to her neck, arms and wrists.

The court heard that she told him she had smothered the boy.

As the verdict was read out, there were loud gasps from the public gallery as well as cries of "yes".

Archie's mother broke down and shouted:

No, no, you've got it wrong.

My kids are my life, they're my world. Nothing would make me take their life.

You're wrong, you're wrong. Nothing would ever make me take him out of this world. It's wrong. You're wrong.

– Lesley Speed

A judge told Speed:

Archie was only seven years old at the time of his death.

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. It was this life which you cut short.

– Mr Justice Nicol
Lesley Speed denied murder at Birmingham Crown Court Credit: West Mercia Police

In a victim impact statement read to the court, Archie's father said the authorities should have done more to protect Archie.

I did all I could to protect my son but was denied the support I needed to do so.

There is something wrong with a system which allows one parent to dismiss legal proceedings without consequence and an even bigger problem when despite laws on equality, the assumption is that a mother must be 'good' and a father 'bad'.

There were so many failures and missed opportunities to safeguard Archie but because the concerns were raised by myself, his father, they were dismissed.

One person committed this heinous act against an innocent little boy but others were also complicit. Archie's death could have been avoided. He should be with me now.

– Archie's father, Matthew Spriggs