Archie Spriggs Inquest concludes

Tuesday 26 November 2019

The inquest into the death of Archie Spriggs concluded that the death could not have been prevented, despite missed opportunities by Shropshire Council to speak to him in person. 

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John Ellery, the senior coroner of the inquest, concluded that Archie Spriggs was unlawfully killed by his mother, Lesley Speed. Despite the inquest identifying missed opportunities and system failures on the part of various state agencies engaged in Archie’s life, it was held that those failures did not contribute to Archie’s death and it could not have been prevented.

Archie Spriggs, aged seven, was murdered by his mother Lesley Speed at their home near Church Stretton, Shropshire on 21 September 2017, the day of a Family Court hearing to enforce a child arrangements order.. Speed denied murdering her son. She was convicted of murder and sentenced in March 2018 to life imprisonment, with a minimum tariff of 18 years.

The inquest heard from Archie's father, represented by Stephen Clark of the Garden Court Civil Liberties and Human Rights team, who said he tried to protect his son from his ex-partner. Mr Spriggs said he reported bruising to Shropshire Council in 2013 after his son said he had been "held upside down and shaken", and again in 2014. He claimed authorities "repeatedly dismissed" his concerns about his son's safety and missed opportunities to prevent his death.

The inquest also heard that in September 2017 Lesley Speed had told a teacher at Archie’s school that the only way that it would end was “with a shotgun and a shovel” and she had claimed to the family GP that Archie was suicidal. Despite safeguarding referrals to Shropshire Children’s Social Care, no action was taken.

Following the conclusion of the inquest, the family have issued the following statement:

"Everyone who encountered Archie over his life immediately recognised him for what he was - a lovely, bubbly young boy with a bright future ahead of him," said the family. The loss of him, as a son, as a nephew, and as a grandson, is unbearable. 

"Only one person bears ultimate responsibility for Archie's death - Lesley Speed. 

"The family's concerns throughout this difficult inquest have always been focused on one question: how can we stop this from happening again? While the coroner has concluded that Archie's death could not have been prevented, this inquest has identified serious system failures. 

"Concerns about Archie were not recorded properly, those concerns which were recorded were not handled properly, and opportunities were missed for Archie to be properly protected. 

"Having heard all the evidence, the family is very concerned that those key lessons have not been learned from Archie's death. Without further reflection and work being done, they are concerned that there will be another case like Archie's. 

"While we understand the considerable interest in this case, we would ask for privacy at this very difficult time."

The inquest was reported on by the BBC and ITV News.

Archie Spriggs' family were represented by Stephen Clark of Garden Court.

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