“Our mother killed the man who abused us with a knife."


Eight years ago, Sarah Sands stabbed to death a convicted pedophile.

On an autumn night in 2014, the woman emerged from her east London duplex with a hood over her head and armed with a knife.

He walked up a joint block of flats until he came to an old man’s house.

Once there, stabbed Michael Pleasted eight timesin what was later described as a “predetermined and sustained attack”.

pleasted it bled to death. She was 77 years old.

At the time, the man, who had previously been convicted of pedophilia, was facing further charges. He was accused of sexual offenses against young children in Silvertown, the development where he lived.

Legally, as in all these cases, the names of these children could not be made public during the trial.

But three of them decided to remain anonymous and talk to BBC News. They are the children of Sarah Sands.

They tell their story

The eldest of them, Bradley, who was 12 at the time of the assault, waived his right to anonymity last year to disclose the abuse.

And in an interview with BBC News, his younger brothers, who are twins, Alfie and ReeceThey have done the same.

They were 11 years old when their mother killed the man accused of abusing them.

Sarah Sands was caught on camera leaving Michael Pleasted’s apartment after the attack.

Now they are 19 and 20 years old and they remember when, as children, they found out what their mother had done.

They say that growing up with her in prison was hard.

And while Sarah feels remorseful about the events, her children, for their part, are brutally honest about their mother’s actions.

“I thought it was wrong,” Bradley tells the BBC. “I will not deny it”.

“It made us feel more secure,” Alfie adds.

“It didn’t stop the nightmares. But it gave us a sense of security because you didn’t have to walk down the street thinking you were going to find it around the corner”.

“He literally lived across the street,” Bradley says.

“I could open that window over there,” he says, pointing, “and I’d see his house.”

Reece, who was 11 years old when the abuse occurred, comments that it was “nice to know he was dead.”

But he adds: “It didn’t stop what came next, you know, we often woke up crying [preguntándonos] ‘where is mom?‘”.

Michael Pleasted had 24 prior convictions for sex crimes.

Arrival at Silvertown

Sarah Sands and her family moved into their new home, also in Silvertown, months before the murder.

She became friends with Pleasted, who lived alone.

He was a high-profile figure in the development, often sitting on a bench in front of the kiosk, allowing him to have contact with local residents and their children.

“I thought it was a charming old man“he says now.

“She cooked for him, she took care of him, she always kept him company when she had time.”

Pleasted sorted the papers in the shop, and some children worked with him on Saturdays.

“He asked if Brad could help him and he was so excited,” Sands says.

She thinks Pleasted was bullying his eldest son while slowly gaining the trust of the twins. He invited the three children to his house.

One night, the twins revealed to him that while they were in the apartment, Pleasted had sexually assaulted them.

A week later, Bradley revealed the same thing.

The accusation

Pleasted was arrested and charged of crimes against children.

While awaiting trial, the judge released him on bail and said that I could return to the urbanization.

Sands says that after the decision she was anguished and that she did not understand anything. She then moved her family into her mother’s small house.

The night of the murder, security cameras caught her going to Pleasted’s apartment.

Say what I wanted to ask him to plead guilty of the charges and spare your children the ordeal of going to court.

Sarah Sands with her three children (from left to right) Alfie, Reece and Bradley

“I didn’t know what I was doing there,” she says.

“I realized that I had made a big mistake. He was not sorry in any way. He said ‘your children are lying’. The whole world froze. I had the knife in my left hand and I remember him reaching for it.”

The mother indicates that did not mean to kill pleasted.

A few hours later, he turned himself in at a police station with the knife and his clothes stained with blood.

During the trial, the judge stated that he did not believe that she had “rationally thought about what might happen when you carry the knife with you,” but added, “I’m sure the possibility of its use was on your mind.”

Sarah Sands was found guilty of manslaughter, rather than murderarguing that he had lost control.

increased penalty

She was jailed for three and a half years, but then saw the sentence increase to seven and a half years because the first ruling was ruled to have been too lenient.

The judges of the Court of Appeals said that she he hadn’t done anything to help PleastedWell, he hadn’t even called the emergency services.

He spent almost four years in prison. “I took the law into my own hands,” she says now.

“I was brought up to take responsibility for my actions.”

What single mom behind barsthe three children and their two younger brothers went to live with their grandmother while she was in prison.

Silvertown is a community in South London. GETTY IMAGES

“We lived in one room together. There was no privacy,” Bradley tells the BBC.

A mother from jail

“My grandmother would call my mother at the jail and ask her on the phone if she could go play soccer or go out with my friends. She would often say ‘no’.”

Alfie says that the three brothers “missed things”.

They saw her once a month on her regular visits to the prison. “Sometimes you just want to tell your mom a problem,” she now recounts.

His friends knew what had happened.

But Bradley says he remembers other people asking, “Where’s your mom? We never see her.”

“They were mad at me,” Sands adds.

“Before going to jail, we were a very close family and then all of a sudden he wasn’t there anymore. It was horrible for them.”

Asked if she felt any remorse about ending Michael Pleasted’s life, she said: “Yes, totally.”

“I have brought life into this world. It never occurred to me that I would be guilty of taking someone’s life.”

name changes

During the trial it emerged that Pleasted had changed his name from Robin Moult and was a convicted pedophile.

I had 24 prior convictions for sex crimes for three decades.

His crimes had carried jail terms. But no one in the area, including the town hall that housed him, knew of his past.

Reece is now 19 years old

Sarah Sands has now joined a group that is campaigning to impose strict measures for name changing sex offenders.

Labor MP Sarah Champion, who raised the issue with politicians, says some sex offenders are using their new identities to pass the necessary checks on certain jobs.

“Once they have changed their names, they can get a new driver’s license and passport with that new identity”says Sarah Champion.

“That allows them to make your history disappear. And we’re finding that these people then go to schools and other places where there are children and vulnerable people and exploit their positions of trust in the most horrific ways.”

The easiest solution would be for police to mark offenders’ passports and driving licenses at sentencing, Champion told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

That would mean authorities would be automatically notified. If a criminal tried to change your nameand a new assessment of its risk to society could be made, he adds.

A Home Office spokesman said it had already conducted a review of the problem, but could not publish it because it contained sensitive information, which could be used by criminals to exploit the system.

He said the UK had some of the toughest mandates in the world for dealing with community-dwelling sex offenders.

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