Mother-of-five killed paedophile for abusing her three sons


Three brothers attacked by a paedophile who changed his identity to hide his 24 child abuse convictions today admitted that they are ‘glad’ he is dead after their mother killed him to protect them.

Sarah Sands drank two bottles of wine and went to the home of Michael Pleasted, 77, in a neighbouring block of flats in east London and stabbed him eight times in 2014.

Her brave sons have all turned 18 and waived their right to anonymity to support their single mother, who is out of prison after four years and now campaigning for a tightening of the rules on sex offenders being allowed to change their names.

One of her boys, Bradley, admitted that he had immediately thought ‘hats off’ to her when he learned she had stabbed Pleasted to death. His twin siblings said they felt ‘safer’ after he was killed. Reece, then aged 11, said it was ‘nice knowing that he was dead’.

In an extraordinary new BBC documentary, called Killing My Children’s Abuser, the boys were asked if they were happy Pleasted had died. They replied immediately, and in unison: ‘Oh yeah, definitely’.

Reece added: ‘What were they doing letting him out on bail? What would make you think that he’s not going to think: “I know I’m going to get caught. I know I’m going to do time. Let me get four or five more kids”.’

The mother of five was also filmed sobbing outside the flat where she stabbed her victim, saying: ‘He took everything from me. Still to this day there are no words to describe how it eats you up from the inside. He ripped my family apart.

‘He ruined my life and he tried to take away the most precious thing in my life. Those babies, they are not going to wake up one day and this hasn’t happened. I’m never going to be able to take it away from them when they’re screaming in the night.

‘I couldn’t tell them it was a dream – because it wasn’t – he was our living nightmare. It eats me away at me because they’re my babies. I’d give my life for them’.

Pleasted had abused three of her children and other young boys on the estate and had already been convicted for three decades of child abuse offences including 24 convictions. 

A legal loophole allows registered sex offenders to change their name by deed poll. The ploy can help individuals get a new driving licence and passport and even a new, clean, DBS criminal record check to allow them access to children, Labour MP Sarah Champion has warned.

‘Gaping hole’ in Sex Offenders Register allowing paedophiles to change names must be closed NOW, says MP

Labour MP Sarah Champion told the BBC some offenders are using name changes to avoid criminal records checks needed for jobs including working with children.

She said: ‘Once they have changed their names, they are able to get a new driving licence and passport in that name. That enables them to get a new DBS check.

‘And we are finding that these people are then going into schools and other places where there are children and vulnerable people and exploiting their positions of trust in the most horrific ways.’ 

 In July 2021 the Home Office announced a ‘time-limited review’ of name changes ‘to better understand whether current processes are being exploited’.

The Safeguarding Alliance petitioned MPs to ‘revoke the right of registered sex offenders to change their name by deed poll’.

In 2020, a Home Office spokesman said: ‘We are determined to prevent serious criminals from hiding their pasts and will not tolerate sex offenders trying to evade the justice system.

‘Sex offenders who fail to tell police of a name change already face tough prison sentences.

‘We are working with the courts and DBS to ensure measures are strengthened and continuously reviewed in order to protect the public.’

Mrs Sands has said she now felt remorse for killing him. She said: ‘I bring life into the world. It never occurred to me that I would be guilty of taking life out of the world’. 

But she told BBC Breakfast: ‘For paedophiles, if you touch children, there has to be consequences. And hiding behind name changes… it has to be taken away from them. That right to change their name has to taken away from them.’ 

Mrs Sands was convicted of manslaughter but cleared of murder because she was considered to have lost control. She was jailed and later said: ‘I did what any mother would do’.

It emerged Pleasted, thought of by the family as a friendly and helpful neighbour on their east London estate, had changed his name from Robin Moult to conceal a long past of offending against children. Mrs Sands even cooked and cared for him – not knowing he was abusing her sons.

It was not publicly known they had been victims of Pleasted when she was jailed because of their right to anonymity. She said she originally intended to threaten Pleasted, who was on bail awaiting trial, to make him plead guilty so her children did not have to give evidence in court.

Ms Sands’ sons, Bradley, Alfie and Reece, all waived their legal right to lifelong anonymity to speak out. They all admitted they felt safer after their mother killed Pleasted. 

Bradley said: ‘I thought hats off… I’m not going to deny it’, when he found out what his mother had done. One of her twins, Reece, said it was ‘nice knowing that he was dead’ but ‘It didn’t stop any afterthoughts, you know, we would often wake up crying [saying] ‘where’s mum?”

Alfie added: ‘It did make us feel safer. It didn’t slow down the nightmares. But it did give us a sense of security because you didn’t have to walk down the street thinking he was going to come around the corner.’

Mrs Sands was convicted of manslaughter on the basis of loss of control after an Old Bailey trial in 2015, and eventually jailed for seven and a half years after having her three-and-a-half-year sentence increased by the Court of Appeal.

She told the court that she wanted to scare him – but attacked him when he claimed her children were all making it up.

She said: ‘I realised I had made a huge mistake. He was not remorseful in any shape or form. He said ‘your children are lying’. The whole world froze. I had the knife in my left hand and I remember he tried to grab it’. She insists that she never intended to kill the paedophile.

But hours after the attack she handed herself into police, with the knife and her blood stained outfit.

While their single mother was behind bars, Sarah’s five children lived with their grandmother.

Describing what it was like, Bradley said: ‘There was loads of us all in one room. There was no privacy.

‘My nan was talking to my mum on the phone in prison, asking her if I could go and play football, or go out with my mates. And often she would say ‘no’.’

Bradley added that it was hard when she was jailed, adding: ‘Where’s your Mum? We never see her.’

On meeting Pleasted, she said: ‘I genuinely thought he was a lovely old man. Cooked for him, cared for him and spent time with him when I could’.

On Saturdays the boys worked in the local paper shop but at times Pleasted took them to his flat and abused them.

Mrs Sands said: ‘He ruined my life and he tried to take away the most precious thing in my life. Them babies they are not going to wake up one day and this hasn’t happen. I’m never going to be able to take it away from them when they’re screaming in the night

‘The shame I felt. I should have known. It eats me away because they’re my babies. I’d give my life for them.’

On the attack she said: ‘I didn’t know what I was doing. I was frightened and I had made a terrible mistake. He showed no fear – and was not remorseful at all.

‘He was like, “Your children are lying” – I froze. I wasn’t listening to his drawl. He came towards to me. I had the knife in my left hand and he tried to grab it. I remember leaving.

‘I didn’t intend it to go the way it did. I didn’t intend to kill him. Police were right ask questions. I had taken the law into my hands.’

On her jail sentence Mrs Sands said: ‘I was suicidal – and I cried every day for six months. Even in that state i was still calling in the morning to say good morning and then after school to hear about their days.’

His mother added: ‘They were angry with me. Before I went in, we were so close and then all of a sudden, I wasn’t there anymore. It was awful for them’.

The Home Office said it has already carried out a review of the issue and the UK already has strict rules in place to deal with sex offenders living in the community.

‘I did what any mother would do’: In her own words, how Sarah Sands stabbed to death the paedophile who abused her children

On the night of November 29, 2014, Sands drank two bottles of wine and a small bottle of whisky before arming herself with a knife and making her way to Pleastead’s flat, the court heard.  

She was caught on CCTV going to Pleasted’s third floor flat. Twenty minutes later she left the building carrying a bloodstained knife in her left hand.

She said last year: ‘I did what any mother would do. I never dreamt I’d be capable. I have no pride in it, but at least I know he can’t hurt anyone else.’ 

Mrs Sands returned to her flat and changed out of her bloodstained clothes, having told a neighbour, ‘pretend you never saw me.’

She then took a taxi to see her stepson Paul Penn and tearfully confessed to stabbing Pleasted.

Mr Penn, 27, told the court: ‘We were sitting there chatting away and she came out that she had stabbed him.

‘It was like joking about, I didn’t think it was being serious. She kept saying she had stabbed him. She said when the door opened she went in and stabbed him, nothing else at all.

‘She got the knife out and showed me. It was a kitchen knife, about a foot long, it had a very pink substance on it.’

Pleasted was found dead in the hallway of his flat the next day after Sands handed herself in to the police. 

Mrs Sands sobbed in the witness box as she insisted that she did not mean to hurt Pleasted when she went to his flat armed with a knife.

She told jurors she had gone there to plead with him to admit his crimes and spare his young accusers from having to go to court.

Mrs Sands said: ‘I was frightened. It was not how it was meant to go. He was meant to listen to me.’ 

The jury deliberated for three days before clearing her of murder and convicting her of manslaughter.

Last year, eldest son Bradley, 12 at the time, waived his right to anonymity to expose the paedophile’s crimes.

In a new interview with the BBC, twin brothers Alfie and Reece, then 11, have also gone public with their story.

The brothers said they could see their abuser’s home from their own, and feared seeing him when they went outside.

Their mother said she feels remorseful about what she did but her sons said they understood her actions.

Mrs Sands now argues the rules should be tightened to stop sexual offenders changing their name, allowing them to target more victims. 

Pleasted was well known on the estate, working at a newsagent and often sitting outside to meet families, giving him access to young children. 

The block of flats he lived in next to the Sands family overlooked a playground and a school in east London.  

The Home Office said it has already carried out a review of the issue and the UK already has strict rules in place to deal with sex offenders living in the community. 

During her trial in 2015 it emerged Pleasted had 24 convictions for sex offences over three decades.

At the point of living next door to Sands, he had changed his name, while his crimes had pre-dated the sex offenders register, meaning that few knew about his past.

Mrs Sands received a seven-year prison term and spent almost four years behind bars before she was released.

She said she had no reason not to trust her older neighbour, who she enjoyed chatting to and cooking meals for and thought it would be a good way for her son to earn pocket money.

Just weeks later, she was informed that Pleasted had been accused of molesting two children.  

Her son denied anything had happened to him, but months later in November 2014, the youngster broke down and admitted he had been groomed and abused. 

Bradley, now 19, waived his anonymity to speak of his ordeal revealing how he was ‘too embarrassed’ at first and thought he would get in trouble, but was having nightmares the paedophile would come after him again.

Pleasted denied the charges made against him, meaning his young victims would have to go to court to testify against him.

During her trial, Sands told the court she had gone to Pleasted to plead with him to admit his crimes and spare his young accusers from having to go to court.

But when he answered the door, he ignored her request and just ‘smirked’ as he told her the boys were all liars who had ruined his life, she said.

Sands, who had armed herself with a 12-inch kitchen knife before visiting, said she ‘lost control’ and stabbed Pleasted eight times.

Within hours, Sands handed herself into police, telling an officer: ‘Who houses a f****** paedophile on an estate, like, seriously? He was, like, asking for trouble.’


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