Archie Spriggs death: Mother said he had 'wished he was dead'

  • Published
Archie SpriggsImage source, FAMILY HANDOUT
Image caption,
Archie Spriggs has been smothered and strangled

The mother of a seven-year-old boy told a GP her son wished he was dead two days before she killed him ahead of a custody hearing, a report has found.

A serious case review said agencies had missed opportunities to intervene in the family's situation.

Shropshire Safeguarding Children's Board said it had acted on the report's recommendations.

The report said that responsibility for the death remained with Speed, who who was found with cuts to her neck and wrists after killing her son, and was jailed for 18 years for murder in March.

The judge at Birmingham Crown Court accepted Speed had a "chronic" mental illness.

Notes to family indicating her intention to harm both herself and her son were found after Archie's death.

Image source, Police handout
Image caption,
The judge accepted Speed had a "chronic" mental illness

Speed split from Archie's father just months after he was born and the relationship became strained, the report stated.

Both parents, who were described as manipulative, made allegations about one another's behaviour, including domestic abuse and Archie being sexually abused and physically harmed.

Although no "tangible evidence of these forms of abuse" were found, agencies failed to "recognise the emotional impact of parental conflict" on Archie.

While many of the allegations did not meet the threshold for intervention, three "clearly did".

  • Archie's father saying his son said in 2014 that he had been sexually abused by a family member
  • A referral by Archie's school in September 2017 about concerns about Speed's well-being and that she had had thoughts of harming others
  • A GP referral at the same time detailing a claim by Speed that Archie said he wished he was dead so that he would not have to see his father
Image caption,
Archie was found at his home last September

The independent review, which covered 2014 to 2017, said several professionals reported concerns about the safety of Archie but there was "a lack of clarity" about how safeguarding referrals were made.

There were examples of calls not being followed up, and in one case of paperwork being left on a desk.

The report also noted an "unconscious bias" against Archie's father, and the allegations he made because he was a male.

Ivan Powell, independent chair of the Shropshire Safeguarding Children's Board, said it would be fair to say that agencies "were working with two parents who were separated and there was an element of conflict and that on occasion their judgements were made in consideration of the fact that the parents were in conflict".

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