Woman sentenced after stabbing convicted paedophile to death in Silvertown

Sarah Sands has been sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail

Sarah Sands has been sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail - Credit: Archant

A woman who stabbed a convicted paedophile to death has today been sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail.


Sarah Sands, 32, was cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter, by reason of loss of control, in July.

She stabbed Michael Pleasted, 77, eight times at his home in Drew Road, Silvertown, following a confrontation over claims he had abused young boys.

The pensioner was found dead on November 28 last year – two weeks after appearing at Thames Magistrates’ Court charged with sexually assaulting two boys under the age of 18 for which he was released on bail.

He was also facing allegations of assaulting another boy under the age of 18. In total Pleastead, who also went by the name of Robin Moult, had 24 previous convictions for sexual offences involving children over a period of three decades, with the earliest reported case in the 1970s.

During the sentencing, Judge Nicholas Cooke QC said the case was “truly exceptional” and reduced Sands’ sentence from seven years to three-and-a-half years, taking her position as a single mother into consideration.

During the trial at the Old Bailey, it was revealed that Sands had gone to visit Pleasted to convince him to plead guilty to the sex offences, after drinking two bottles of wine and a bottle of brandy.

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She was armed with a knife, hammer and wrench. After being asked why she had taken the weapon, Sands told the court it was “so he would take me seriously”, adding: “I didn’t want to go there. He had to listen to me.”

The single mother-of-five told the court the pensioner had “smirked” when he opened the door to her before accusing his alleged victims of being liars and complaining that his life had been ruined.

“He was not how I thought he was going to be. He was so cold,” she said. “I was so hurt.”

Sands told the court that she had not intended on harming the pensioner but had taken the knife out after during the confrontation “to show him he could not talk to me like that.”

She added: “He was in front of me. 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 said 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.”

The judge added: “The deceased’s age made him vulnerable and the defendant armed herself in advance of the concentration which she travelled to with a lethal weapon.

“I do not believe the defendant has rationally thought through what taking the knife might lead to. I’m sure that the possibility of its use was in her mind. In the event what provoked the frenzied attack which took place is unclear.”

“This was a case in which the defendant promptly gave herself up to the police in a highly distressed state which renders drawing any inferences from her initial behaviour in custody unsafe, never disputed responsibility for the killing as a matter of fact, did not take the opportunity to dispose of relevant evidence and has exhibited remorse.”