Mum 'killed' son, 7, because she feared losing him in a custody battle, court is told

Lesley Speed and son Archie (SWNS)
Lesley Speed and son Archie (SWNS)

A mum murdered her seven-year-old son by strangling him with a scarf after writing letters saying she would rather he ‘be dead’ than lose him in a custody battle, a court heard.

Lesley Speed, 44, is also accused of using a cushion to smother Archie Spriggs on the same day she and her ex-partner Matthew Spriggs were due to attend a family court.

The schoolboy was found lying dead on his bunk bed by Speed’s partner, Darren Jones, at their home in Church Stretton, Shropshire, on September 21 last year.

Speed was also found bleeding with knife wounds. She was rushed to hospital and survived and was later charged with murder.

A court heard how letters found at Speed’s home revealed that: ‘She would rather that Archie be dead than see him leave with his father.’

Police investigate following the alleged murder (SWNS)
Police investigate following the alleged murder (SWNS)

Birmingham Crown Court heard a recording of a 999-call he made immediately after the shock discovery, in which he said: ‘There’s blood everywhere. She’s cut herself.

‘Her son, he’s dead. He’s freezing cold. He’s blue.

According to medics, Speed claimed she ‘did not want to live anymore’ and failed to ask about Archie as she was treated for cuts to her neck, arms and wrists.

Prosecutor Sally Howes QC said: “It is the Crown’s case that he was murdered by his mother.

‘September 21 was the day of the family court hearing that she so dreaded.

‘She had not prepared herself for that hearing and feared that the proceedings would result in Archie being taken away from her.

‘The contents of letters found at Rushford Road were telling. She would rather that Archie be dead than see him leave with his father.’

Seven year old Archie (SWNS)
Seven year old Archie (SWNS)

Miss Howes also revealed that forensic tests on the scarf revealed “off white” coloured stains on its fibres, which were consistent with it being “pulled tightly as a ligature to strangle him.”

The court heard how Speed had been diagnosed with depression in 1998 and 2014.

But jurors were told how an assessment of Speed’s mental state revealed that her level of depression was ‘moderate’.

Speed contends that Archie hanged himself with a scarf before she ‘cuddled him up and smothered him’ to ‘end his suffering.’.

Mr Jones gave evidence from behind a screen on the second day of the the murder trial at Birmingham Crown Court.


He told of the harrowing moment he found Archie lying dead in his bunk bed after he returned home from work on September 21 last year.

He also discovered Speed in the bathroom, covered in blood, after he heard calling out.

‘I opened the bathroom door and popped my head in, I saw Lesley lying on the floor in the dark, lying in her pyjamas covered in blood,’ he told the court.

‘I couldn’t see where the blood was coming from until my eyes adjusted, I thought she had slipped over – blood everywhere.

‘The blood was coming from a cut on her neck, one on her arm and one on her wrist.

The tragedy happened last September (SWNS)
The tragedy happened last September (SWNS)

He added: ‘Her voice was faint, she was sobbing, very upset, but I could understand what she was saying.

‘She said, “finish me off”, she didn’t want to be here anymore.

‘I didn’t know where Archie was, she said, “I have killed him”.

‘I said, “what do you mean you have killed him?”

‘I was in shock and disbelief.’