Woman cleared of murdering Silvertown paedophile
PUBLISHED: 15:44 10 July 2015 | UPDATED: 16:02 10 July 2015
A mother who stabbed a convicted paedophile to death in his home has been found guilty of manslaughter.
Sarah Sands, 32, stabbed 77-year-old Michael Pleasted eight times, in Drew Road, Silvertown, following a heated confrontation over allegations that he had abused three boys.
Sands was today cleared of murder but was found guilty of manslaughter following a two week trial at the Old Bailey.
Pleasted was found dead on November 28 last year – two weeks after he had appeared at Thames Magistrates Court charged with sexually assaulting two boys under the age of 18.
He had also been accused of assaulting another boy under the age of 18 and had previously been jailed for other child sex offences.
During the trial, jurors heard how Sands had gone to confront the pensioner over the alleged attacks, after drinking two bottles of wine and a bottle of brandy.
She was armed with a knife, hammer and wrench, but told the court that she had not intended on harming him.
The court heard how Sands had taken the knife out during the heated confrontation during which she tried to convince the salesman to plead guilty to the sex offences.
Sands told jurors that Pleasted had “smirked” at her before accusing his alleged victims of being liars and complaining that his life had been ruined.
She said: “We were staring at each other, I was poking him. He was looking dead in my face and he was just standing there and I don’t think either of us realised what had happened.”
She added that once she realised what she had done and after seeing spots of blood on her jumper, she panicked and made off.
Sands handed herself into police hours after the incident but claimed during a police interview that she had no idea he had died.
The court heard how she referred to the pensioner as “the devil” and told officers during an interview: “Who houses a paedophile on an estate? He was asking for trouble.”
Detective Chief Inspector Dave Whellams of the Homicide and Major Crime Command led the investigation said: “CCTV footage clearly pieced together the movements of Sands in this case and confirmed her involvement in the manslaughter of Mr Pleasted at his home address. Forensic evidence found on the knife she was carrying also linked her to the scene of the brutal attack.”
The jury deliberated for three days before clearing Sands of murder.
Sentencing has been adjourned and is due to take place on a date to be fixed in September.
Judge Nicholas Cooke QC told the court an inquiry was to be held into the decision to bail Pleasted following the two child sex offence charges, adding the jurors were clearly “troubled by the background” of the case.
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