The father of a seven-year-old boy strangled by his mother pleaded with social services to protect his son four years earlier – but was ‘repeatedly dismissed’ up until weeks before he was murdered, he told his little boy’s inquest today.
Lesley Speed killed Archie Spriggs at home in Church Stretton two years ago on the day of a family court custody hearing and is now serving life in prison for murder.
Matthew Spriggs told Shrewsbury Coroner’s Court today he had called Shropshire County Council in 2013, 2014 and 2017 about bruising Archie suffered and finally when the seven-year-old told him about ‘several types of abuse and neglect’ by his mother.
In the months before the murder he claimed to have told social workers: ‘What is it going to take for you to investigate? Bruises? Broken bones? Or my son to be killed by her?’ and was allegedly told: ‘It won’t come to that’.
And four years earlier he said Archie was held upside down and shaken by his mother but the complaint fell on deaf ears, he said, as were photographs of bruises on his body, he claims.
In a statement read to the court by his lawyer, Mr Spriggs said he could still not comprehend his former partner’s actions.
Speaking about an 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 saying he feared they would not take any action unless he was murdered.
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.