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Woman found guilty of murdering seven-year-old son amid custody battle

Archie Spriggs was strangled and smothered at his home in Rushbury, Shropshire, on September 21 last year.

A woman who used a scarf and a cushion to strangle and smother her seven-year-old son has been found guilty of murder.

Lesley Speed, 44, had denied killing Archie Spriggs, who died of asphyxia at his home in Rushbury, near Church Stretton, Shropshire, on September 21 last year.

Jurors at Birmingham Crown Court were told Speed was found with cuts to her neck after killing Archie during a bitter custody battle with her ex-partner.

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Lesley Speed

Returning the verdict on Monday, it took the jury of 10 women and two men just over five hours to convict Speed of the killing.

As the forewoman delivered the unanimous finding, Speed – flanked by two dock officers – broke down and shouted “No, no, you’ve got it wrong.

“My kids are my life, they’re my world. Nothing would make me take their life.”

Nothing would ever make me take him out of this world. Lesley Speed

She added: “You’re wrong, you’re wrong. Nothing would ever make me take him out of this world. It’s wrong. You’re wrong.”

As the verdict was read out, there were loud gasps from the public gallery as well as cries of “yes”.

Speed had claimed she found her son hanging from his scarf in his bedroom.

But her partner Darren Jones, who discovered the youngster on his bunk and his girlfriend lying wounded in the bathroom, said Speed had told him she smothered the boy.

The court also heard Speed had been “stressing out” about a forthcoming custody hearing in court with Archie’s father.

A doctor who arrived at the scene also believed he heard her say she “did not want to live any more”, jurors were told.

Mr Justice Nicol, adjourning proceedings, said he would sentence Speed on Tuesday.

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