Father of murdered boy urged social services to protect his son, inquest told

The father of a seven-year-old boy who was strangled by his mother has told an inquest how he pleaded with social services staff to protect his son, but was “repeatedly dismissed” by multiple agencies.

Matthew Spriggs, whose son Archie Spriggs was killed by Lesley Speed (pictured) in September 2017, on the day of a family court custody hearing, told Shropshire Coroner’s Court he could still not comprehend her actions.

In a statement read to the court by his lawyer, Mr Spriggs said he had reported bruising to Shropshire Council in 2013 and 2014, before contacting social services again in 2017, after Archie disclosed “several types of abuse and neglect” by his mother.

Mr Spriggs, from Shrewsbury, said of an alleged incident in 2013: “He (Archie) told me he had been held upside down and shaken by her.

“I informed social services that I had photographic evidence of his injuries, but they did not seek to take this from me.”

An inquest, which began on Monday and is expected to last for two weeks, was told that Speed, who was looking after Archie at her home in Rushbury, near Church Stretton, Shropshire, is serving a life sentence after being found guilty of murder in March 2018.

In his evidence to the inquest, Mr Spriggs claimed his concerns were not taken seriously – and that he had telephoned social services in the months before Archie’s death and asked: “What is it going to take for you to investigate? Bruises? Broken bones? Or my son to be killed by her?”

Mr Spriggs, who said he was told “it won’t come to that”, also claims that Archie’s school failed to take his concerns seriously.

His statement to the inquest added: “In 2014 I again reported to the Shropshire social services after bruises appeared on Archie’s body, but the social services did not appear to undertake any investigation.

“Over the May half-term of 2017, Archie disclosed to me and my wife, on separate occasions, about several types of abuse and neglect he was subjected to at his mother’s.

“I reported all of this to Shropshire social services.

“After several minutes on hold I was then told that social services would not be investigating, as there was no grounds to investigate, as their previous investigation had not shown any threat level.

“From June 2010 I did everything so that Archie and I could have contact with each other. Throughout my son’s life, everything I did was for him.

“I contacted many organisations and I do not believe that any of the organisations took my concerns seriously.”

Shropshire coroner John Ellery was told that Mr Spriggs also contacted Archie’s school, West Mercia Police and Ofsted during June and July 2017, asking them to ensure Archie was spoken to, to investigate his concerns.

The inquest, which was told that part of Mr Spriggs’ statement to the court was disputed by the local authority and West Mercia Police, continues.

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