Mum strangled and smothered seven-year-old son to death because she feared losing him in custody battle

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A mother has been found guilty of strangling and smothering her seven-year-old son because she feared losing him in a custody battle.

Lesley Speed, 44, faces a lifetime behind bars for killing Archie Spriggs, 7, at their Rushbury home near Church Stretton, Shropshire, on September 21, 2017, after which she tried to kill herself.

 

Archie was found dead on his bunk bed by Speed’s partner, Darren Jones. Jones also found Speed on the bathroom floor with self-inflicted knife wounds to her neck, arms, and wrists.

 

Speed, who was embroiled in a custody battle with former partner Matthew Spriggs, had denied murdering Archie. But Jones said when he found the body of Archie and Speed, she told him, “I killed him. I smothered him. I can’t put him through this.”

Mum strangled and smothered seven-year-old son to death because she feared losing him in custody battle

Mr Jones said Speed had sent him a string of disturbing text messages before the murder. In one she said: “I don’t want to be in this ****** up world.”

In other messages she added: “I really don’t want to be here. I wish we could just go to the coast and never come back or die so I don’t have to feel like this again. I feel like I am losing it and I have an overwhelming feeling I am going to lose Archie.”

Lesley also wrote chilling letters saying she would rather her little boy Archie Spriggs “be dead” than lose him to his dad, Matthew Spriggs.

Speed and Spriggs had been involved in a bitter battle for custody of the schoolboy before he was murdered by his mum last September. The court heard that charity worker Speed was concerned that Mr Spriggs would take Archie away to live with him and his new wife in Slovakia.

Mum strangled and smothered seven-year-old son to death because she feared losing him in custody battle

On the day Speed was due to come face-to-face with her ex at a family court hearing, she strangled and smothered him using a scarf and a cushion, a court heard.

A week earlier, she had penned a letter to Mr Spriggs, telling him: “I hope this pain lives with you until your dying breath.”

Speed denied the charge, claiming she found her son hanging, but yesterday, March 26, she was found guilty of murder by a jury of 10 women and two men at Birmingham Crown Court. The jurors took just over five hours to convict her of the killing.

As the forewoman delivered the unanimous finding, Speed, who was flanked by two dock officers, angrily shouted, “No, no, you’ve got it wrong. Nothing would ever make me take him out of this world.”

Mr Justice Nicol adjourned proceedings, saying he would sentence Speed today.

Mum strangled and smothered seven-year-old son to death because she feared losing him in custody battle

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